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Suffolk Libraries welcomes County Council proposals for library service budget

Suffolk Libraries has welcomed Suffolk County Council proposals which will provide stability for the county’s library service over the next four years.

The council has proposed a budget for the remaining four years of our five-year contract which would involve an initial one-off reduction of £50,000 for 2018/19 but then remain at the same level for the next four years with no further funding cuts.

The proposals form part of the County Council’s budget plans which were discussed at their Scrutiny Committee on 23 November. These are still subject to discussion over the next few months, with the council due to confirm its budget in February 2018.

Tony Brown, chair of Suffolk Libraries Board, said: “We welcome the proposed funding offer to support the library service consistently over the next four years. We especially appreciate this relatively long-term commitment at a time when the County Council continues to face difficult budget constraints.

"This creative proposal will allow us to focus on improving the quality and quantity of services we provide across the county. It is a reward for what our staff and volunteers are already delivering, and for the time and energy expended by both parties in ensuring we have a constructive partnership based on understanding and fulfilling the needs of people in the communities we serve.”

Alison Wheeler, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, added: “The plans demonstrate the County Council’s commitment to the library service and a recognition that we have already saved 33% of the original budget whilst still delivering a comprehensive service which delivers great value for money. Our library service has faced many challenges but we still have so much to be proud of and I am convinced that we have the potential to really make a difference in the community and to people’s lives in the future.”

Cllr Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, said: “Suffolk’s libraries are a high quality and empowering community resource, and we are committed to supporting them. We are working with colleagues from Suffolk Libraries to ensure that we make the best possible use of them through the services we commission.”

We have been successfully running the county’s library service since August 2012 and in August this year the contract was extended for another five years. Every year we discuss and negotiate the level of funding for the year ahead with the County Council. Under the new proposal this figure would be agreed in early 2018 and guaranteed until the end of the current contract in 2022.