‘Horrific’ plans to cut hours at Lillington library face criticism

“SHOCKING” plans to slash library opening times in one of Leamington’s most deprived areas have been condemned.

Warwickshire County Council has proposed cutting opening hours at Lillington library from 37.5 to 20 hours per week in a 27 per cent cut to the service’s budget over three years.

At Leamington town council last week, Cllr Sarah Boad called to keep hours as long as possible, and urged community groups to move in and help.

Insisting the Mason Avenue library was well used, she said: “Parts of Lillington are the most deprived in the district. Having a library with the ability to borrow books for free is very important.”

Cllr Boad (Lib Dem, Crown) criticised the county council’s decision to charge computer users, a move she said had led to fewer visits, while Cllr Susan Ingleby (Lab, Clarendon) called the plans for Lillington “shocking”, adding: “It’s a place that needs all the educational facilities it can get.”

Cllr Mota Singh (Lab, Willes) asked how it was possible to justify cuts of £2 million in a budget of £7.4 million when there was higher unemployment and greater need for libraries.

And citing a Guardian article in which writer Alan Bennett described library cuts as “a form of child abuse”, Cllr Roger Copping (Lib Dem, Manor) said: “There is a need for social mobility., The downgrading of our library system by 25 per cent is too much.”

Representing the county council, principal librarian Paul McDermott said a number of libraries were “unsustainable” in their current form.

Adding that the county council would welcome any discussion to keep branches open longer, he said: “The proposals are proposals at the moment. I accept it seems Lillington has had it pretty harsh.”

The consultation will end on Thursday June 9.