County libraries to lose a fifth of staff

MORE than a fifth of the workforce of North Yorkshire County Council’s library service is set to be axed as part of the local authority’s plan to hand over the running of its branches to the local community.

It emerged yesterday that the county council, which aims to counter £69m in Government cuts, plans to remove 36 posts from its 177 full time library staff, while opening hours in many branches are to be cut.

The redundancies are part of its plan to transfer the running of many of its 42 libraries to volunteers, which the Yorkshire Post revealed last month is set to prove a success following a huge reaction from the public.

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Under the proposals, which are set to be considered by the executive later this month, all North Yorkshire’s branch libraries would be retained, with the exception of Malton and Norton libraries which would be merged into one.

The 41 remaining branches would be run either by the county council’s library service, volunteers, or a combination of both.

Yesterday Scarborough Borough Councillor Nick Harvey, who represents Hunmanby, which has one of the original eight libraries earmarked for closure which have been saved by their local communities, condemned the county council, warning of a feared “burn out” of community spirit.

“Hunmanby does so much for itself already,” he said.

“Running a library is exceedingly complex, how many of these community solutions will be here in a few years time? The library service is a core function of the county council.”

Coun Chris Metcalfe, executive member for libraries, said: “We have listened to what people have said about how they want to become involved in the provision of this service, we have examined the proposals they have put forward for achieving those aims, and I’m delighted to say that the result is a set of proposals designed to ensure a viable and sustainable future for our libraries.”