The county council’s budget proposals include a reduction of 11% to Suffolk’s library service over the next two years – £350,000 each year in 2016/17 and 2017/18.
Alison Wheeler, General Manager, Suffolk Libraries, said:
These are proposals and we are hoping soon to reach agreement, working constructively with the Council, as we have done in the past. We are in discussion about what we can do, and how we might move forward over the next two years and beyond. It is clear that the success of our model of service delivery has helped to protect Suffolk Libraries from even more threatening budget cuts at this time.
We do not expect to have to make any major changes in the coming year. We had already planned to deliver the final part of the 30% efficiency savings which are set out in our original contract. We have already saved approximately £2.5million from the cost of the in-house library service in 2010/11. These new proposals take us beyond the original target, but not that much further, in the coming year.
We will ensure that any savings we need to make for the next financial year (2016/17) will not affect the integrity of Suffolk’s library service.
Looking further ahead to 2017/18 we recognise that the proposed reductions will be challenging and may involve changes to the way some library services are delivered. Suffolk County Council has to indicate in what areas of service it expects any adjustments to be made. We have not agreed any changes at this stage, and the council is committed to public consultation on any significant changes they propose.
Over the next year we will work with the County Council to discuss how we can continue to innovate within the library service and continue to improve what we have, looking for ways to make it as sustainable as we can.
Tony Brown, Chair of Suffolk Libraries Board added:
Suffolk Libraries is committed to ensuring no library branches will close during the lifetime of our current contract.
With the support of our Board, staff, community groups and customers, Suffolk Libraries has worked hard and successfully over the past three years to ensure the organisation is operating efficiently and to protect and develop what is regarded as a ‘gold standard’ service of which we are all rightly proud.
We are a stronger, more flexible organisation than we were and we will use this strength and the relationships we have developed to respond to this challenge, to continue to innovate and to seek ways in which to maintain the sustainability of the service.