Hartlepool libraries’ hours could be slashed as council chiefs seek savings

Hartlepool's Central Library on York Road.
Hartlepool's Central Library on York Road.

Councillors are set to discuss proposed changes to library services aimed at saving £90,000.

The Library Service Review 2015 will be discussed as Hartlepool Borough Council looks to make cuts of £14m across all of its services over the next three years.

The Regeneration Committee agreed a proposal to review the Library Service during 2014/15 to provide information for setting the 2016/17 budget.

Councillors will discuss proposed changes to library opening hours, the suitability of the existing branch library network and buildings, the use of volunteers and alternative library service providers, online services and income generation.

Proposals may also see branches close an hour earlier at 5pm instead 6pm.

Saturday opening hours may also be reduced by one hour, but Central Library opening hours will not change under proposals.

The proposed closure days would see Headland shut on a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; Owton Manor shut on Tuesday and Friday; Seaton Carew on Monday and Wednesday; Throston Grange on Tuesday and Friday.

Owton Manor, Seaton Carew and Throston are also subject to an additional day of closure.

Ahead of the proposals The Library Service consulted library users, non-library users, community groups and organisations, library staff and schools. Consultation of the proposed changes was carried out via a public survey; public and staff drop-in sessions; community group surveys, including non-library users. A school and library staff survey was also carried out and overall a total of 1,555 responses were received.

Of those who responded to the public survey, 50% said they had used a branch library in the previous 12 months; and many use the library once a month or more.

The report said: “Findings revealed most branch library users would choose to change the day they visited their branch rather than use the Central Library on a Saturday.

“They also said if branch library opening hours were to be reduce slightly more branch library users would choose to reduce weekday opening rather than close on a Saturday.”

The proposal is to reduce Owton Manor, Throston Grange and Seaton Carew libraries from four week days to three.

The Headland Library currently opens only two week days and it is proposed that this does not change, but the council is discussing scheduling branch closures so that at least one branch remains open on any given week day. E-Services could also be cut to save £6,000. The report said: “It is recommend that the inclusion of E-book services should not be pursued.”