It’s decision time for Comet country libraries

PROPOSALS to slash library hours and withdraw mobile libraries both in Comet country and across the county will be decided next week by a council.

Despite the majority of people opposing the proposals or citing them “too drastic” in a public consultation, Hertfordshire County Council are proposing to cut opening hours at Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock libraries.

Its Cabinet will make the decision on Monday, where it has been recommended to approve proposals.

Overall across the county, hours could be cut by 30 per cent, saving an estimated �1.4 million.

Mobile library services could also be slashed, with the Stevenage vehicle expected to cease operation in May, should proposals be approved.

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“I think it’s a great shame about losing the mobile library services,” said Cllr Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council.

“For some older people, less mobile and younger children, it’s incredibly important.

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“It’s too drastic. It’s the only way for some people to rent books in Stevenage. Now they will have nothing.

“They form such an important part in people’s lives. I think we need to encourage young people to read. The mobile libraries are one way to do that.”

Just 10 per cent of the 7,000 who responded in the consultation said that they understood why reduced opening hours were being proposed.

Stevenage could lose 14 hours a week and Stevenage Old Town could lose 20.

Libraries in North Herts are proposed for even bigger cuts, with Hitchin and Letchworth both expected to lose 24 hours a week and both possibly shutting completely on days which they would usually be open.

Baldock may drop 19 hours a week, and also shut on a Friday- a day which it is currently open.

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