By Martin Walker
Newton Aycliffe’s library will open less from the New Year as part of Durham Council’s huge cost-cutting measures.
The authority must save around £190m – and reducing library opening hours will enable it to shave £1.457m a year.
Aycliffe will only suffer a reduction of 12 hours over the course of a full week, and will still be available to the public for 36 hours Monday to Saturday.
Earlier this year, the authority’s Cabinet agreed to reduce opening hours and make them consistent across the county.
The changes follow a public consultation earlier this year, which saw more than 91% of Citizen’s Panel members support proposals to reduce opening hours rather than close libraries.
A further consultation gave library users the opportunity to help decide on specific opening times for each individual library.
The mobile library service, which saw membership fall by 55% between March 2008 and March 2011, will now only visit communities at least three miles from a library building, with only one halt in each settlement the library visits.
Cllr Maria Plews, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning, said: “These changes are necessary if we are to make the savings required of us.
“I am pleased that we have been able to involve users of the library service throughout the process, both in influencing our overall strategy and in deciding on specific opening times for their local facility.”
The changes will come into effect on Wednesday, 2nd January, when new phone numbers are also being introduced at all libraries.
CURRENT OPENING HOURS
NEW OPENING TIMES (from 2nd January)
Information on the new opening times, mobile routes and phone numbers is available in branch libraries, on mobile libraries and online at www.durham.gov.uk/libraries