PLANS to close two of the Coventry’s libraries, cut the mobile library services and close public toilets are set to be approved by councillors today (November 26).
At a Cabinet meeting, councillors are expected to approve the proposals in a bid to save £1.2 million a year from April 2016 and a further £3.8 million a year from 2017.
Plans would see the establishment of a new Connecting Communities programme, which would bring council services together under one roof in a reduced number of locations in communities and neighbourhoods.
As part of the proposals the Arena Park and Willenhall libraries would be closed in favour of running cheaper, reduced library services in community locations.
All libraries across the city would also be shut on Sundays and Wednesdays, the annual budget for buying books and DVDs would be cut by £100,000, and the mobile library service would be axed – with charity Age UK picking up the task of providing house-bound members of the public with an at home service.
Public toilets at six locations outside the city centre would also be closed while after-school play activities for five to 12 year olds at Edgewick and Eagle Street Place Centres would be stopped, with funding being used instead to establish nursery provisions for two to four year olds.
Speaking about the proposals, Councillor David Kershaw, Cabinet Member for Education and Libraries, promised all libraries would stay open until next year at least while the implications were considered.
He said: “We understand Coventry residents’ passion for their libraries and have listened to their concerns.
“We are doing this, of course, against a backdrop of spending cuts that will see our government grant cut by half by 2017.
“We have no choice about reducing services and making tough decisions against the stark reality of having to deliver services with at least £250 per head less to spend on every man, woman and child in Coventry than we had in 2010.”
But Coun Kershaw was also quick to deny the proposals would mean the closure of libraries – arguing instead they could pave the way for ‘new ways’ of delivering learning, library, children’s and family services across Coventry with the help of the charity and voluntary sector.
He added: “There is a real appetite across the city from people who want to get involved and work with us and I think we recognise the Council does not always know best when it comes to making decisions about what is right for communities.
“We recognise that all these changes will have an impact on our libraries and other services across the city.
“But we have considered very carefully the implications of every individual proposal and taken into account the views people have expressed to us about our services over the past few months.”
If the Council’s cabinet approve the report a consultation on the proposals will run from December 7 to February 1 with detailed proposals for further savings of £3.8million a year from 2017/18 finalised next summer.