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Bexley’s libraries could merge with Bromley’s

PUBLISHED: 11:39 09 February 2011

Peter Catterall

Peter Catterall

Archant

Merging libraries with a neighbouring borough are among a raft of proposals residents can have their say on.

Bexley council could merge the management of their libraries with fellow Conservative council in Bromley in a bid to scale back its £6 million annual library bill.

Residents can vote on the proposals which include hiring out the space to community groups and the community management of three libraries, until next Friday (18).

Leisure councillor Peter Catterall said: “Some people are campaigning to ‘save’ their local library, but we have no plans to close any of our libraries at the moment.

“We have to make substantial savings, but we are open to any suggestions about how to provide the services people need at less cost to council taxpayers.

“Our discussions start from the fact that we are giving priority to the needs of the most vulnerable and must reduce our spending by more than £33m over the next three years.

“There are many people who don’t use our libraries and we are just as keen to hear from them.”

The recommendations will be discussed at a Bromley council meeting next Tuesday (15), after the merger plans were backed by a working group made up of four Bromley councillors last Friday (4).

Other proposals for Bexley include scrapping one of the mobile libraries and for the rest of the mobile libraries to charge schools and residential homes for use.

Mr Catterall added: “We want to involve local people in our decision-making and develop libraries into places that meet the particular needs of their local communities. In some places they may look much like our current libraries – in others they may become places where people can borrow books, but also where parents can visit a toddler group, teenagers a homework club and older people a social club.

“I am encouraged that some people feel so passionately about their libraries. I hope that means they will be willing to work with us to make them places that serve the needs of local people at a price they can afford.”

To take part in the consultation, ask for more information at your local library, or visit the council’s website at www.bexley.gov.uk

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