“I do not want to close libraries and there are no discussions taking place to close specific libraries.”
That was the message from Jacquie Russell, West Sussex County Council’s new cabinet member for fire and rescue and communities.
One of the options was to save up to £500,000 by making some changes to the library services – such as closing several branch libraries, reducing opening hours and removing the mobile library service.
But several months later Mrs Russell said: “I know how important they [libraries] are to the people who use them and I want to reassure residents across West Sussex that I want to protect services not shut them down.”
However the authority is looking at areas of the service where it thinks it can make savings while preserving the core of the service. These include looking at stopping the mobile library service and reducing late evening library opening times.
She said: “These ideas are only proposals at this stage and they’ll be looked at more closely, debated and consulted on as we go forward.”
The county council is also looking at creating more community hubs where a range of services are run under one roof.
Mrs Russell explained: “Instead of having two or three buildings in a community that host different services, we will look at ways of bringing them together into one building if it’s appropriate to do so.”