Boost for libraries as part of £1.6m investment plans

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TWO libraries will be opening longer as part of £1.6m plans to create “one-stop” shops in the East Riding where people can pay a bill or pick up a book.

East Riding Council is seeking planning permission for two schemes to remodel customer service facilities in Hessle and Withernsea. In Hessle, the customer service centre is moving out of Peeler House, on Ferriby Road to the library building on Eastgate a quarter of a mile away. The council intends selling the building, with the police also moving to the new site, which will also have its day centre upgraded.

In Withernsea, the customer service centre is next door to the library. The work will involve removing the dividing wall, as well as improving the lay out and the building’s energy efficiency. In Hessle’s case reduced running costs will pay for the investment in 10 years.

Principal surveyor Andy Hazel said the Government was encouraging councils to put services under one roof, adding: “All the public-facing facilities will be on site - it is very similar to what we have done at the Petuaria Centre in Brough.”

The upgrades will include web access and self-service machines. As customer service centres tend to have longer opening hours, both libraries will stay open longer.

The head of culture and information, Darren Stevens, said: “The latest self service equipment will be put into both libraries which means customers can come in and renew books and return and take them out via machines. They are actually quite popular, even with older customers. There will still be the option to go to the desk. It frees up staff so they can get out and about and help customers find what they need.”

A public display will be held at the library in Hessle today from 9.30am to 12.30pm, and at the customer service centre at Peeler House from 1pm to 4pm. Council staff will be on hand to discuss the changes. A similar display will be held in Withernsea next Friday from 9.30am to 4pm. The council will provide alternative accommodation in empty shops or modular buildings while the building work is carried out - 12 months in the case of Hessle and six months in Withernsea. The work will be offered to an approved list of contractors in the New Year.