Libraries face axe in council’s saving schemes

L13-277 Sundon Park library off Hill Rise, Luton. Scene setter'Connie Primmer'JR 10'6.3.13
L13-277 Sundon Park library off Hill Rise, Luton. Scene setter'Connie Primmer'JR 10'6.3.13

Bookworms of the future may find they have far fewer ways of getting their hands on the latest literature as libraries across Luton are set to close.

Leagrave, Marsh Farm, Wigmore, Sundon Park, Stopsley and the Mobile Library Service are being considered for either closure, relocation or downsizing as the council tries to reduce the £2.7million they spend on libraries.

A review of Luton libraries, compiled by surveying 2,468 people, will be discussed at the council’s executive committee meeting on Monday.

A spokesperson for Luton Culture, who run the libraries on behalf of the council, said: “We believe the loss of any library is detrimental, particularly at this current time of economic hardship for many. However, we feel that taking into account the significant reduction in funding, the option being recommended will provide the best possible library service for Luton residents.“

The report acknowledges that “a reduced library service does have a negative impact on educational attainment, and it particularly adversely affects children, the elderly and the disadvantaged.”

Of those surveyed, 85 per cent said the closure of their local library would have a fairly or very big impact on them and 97 per cent had used a library in the past 12 months. Leagrave and Central libraries were the most used, and Bury Park the least.

There are various options for the closures, but all will keep Central open. There will be no mobile library unless the opening hours are reduced at central library. At least two libraries will close with others downsizing and relocating.

Over 750 residents have signed a petition to save Sundon Park Library. > What do you think?