Conservative led Cornwall Council is proposing to cut library opening by 102 hours per week as the authority seeks to save more than £1.5 million from library and one stop shop budgets over the next two years.
Of the 32 branch libraries in Cornwall, 24 will see their opening hours reduced. Among the worst hit will be Fowey and Looe libraries which will lose 15 hours opening each per week and Saltash and Torpoint libraries which will each lose 9.5 hours opening. Just one library will see additional opening hours - Lostwithiel which will gain an hour per week.
The changes are aimed at 'harmonising' library opening hours with each of the five library bands having set opening hours wherever they are in Cornwall.
This is a very regrettable move. Residents across Cornwall will be getting a worse service from one of the best loved parts of the Council. The Tories who run Cornwall Council should be seeking to get more library users, not shut them out.
I don't see a need to force a 'one size fits all' approach onto library hours. It is the opposite of the localism that they claim to be pursuing. Forcing all branches to adopt the same opening and closing times and all but the biggest to have the same days off ignores local customs such as market days. Why force a branch to close on a Wednesday if that is the busiest day of the week. Some community groups will have to move their longstanding meeting times to fit a bright idea coming from County Hall.
I am relieved to see that Saturday opening and late openings will be preserved, but overall this is a step in the wrong direction which Liberal Democrats warned about during the budget debate and will continue to campaign against.
UPDATE - BBC Cornwall have covered the story here and you can listen to me discussing the issue on Radio Cornwall here (scroll through 1hr 41mins)