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Bromley councillors to decide on sharing library services with Bexley
SLASHING opening hours and charging to use the internet are among the options being presented before councillors tonight, when they meet to discuss sharing Bromley’s library services with Bexley.
Across the two boroughs there are currently 71 library posts, yet under the merger plans, which could save more than £2m over the next three years, only 36 jobs will be available.
Opening hours of libraries could also be reduced, with those in Southborough, Anerley, Mottingham and St Paul’s Cray cut from 43.5 hours a week to just 14.
The closure of Burnt Ash Library and Southborough Library is also identified as a potential money saver.
Another source of revenue could come from charging people £1 an hour to use the borough’s 160 library computers, with the first hour being free.
The creation of a non-profit trust organisation to manage library services, which would qualify for an 80 per cent relief from business rates, is a further option.
Back office and management staff will be based at offices in Foots Cray while each borough will keep full control of its own watch.
Opposing the plans, Paul Rooney from Bromley Cuts Concern, said: “The Bexley merger will mean unaccountable Bexley staff and councillors having a say in how our local services are run.
“It will also mean drastic and unsustainable cuts to essential frontline staff with the consequent loss in service,expertise and local knowledge.
“Bromley staff , paid for by us will be spending time on tasks in the Bexley area.”
Portfolio holder for renewal and recreation Councillor Peter Morgan said: “Residents will appreciate that the council faces severe financial pressures.
“These two proposals, the shared back office and the trust option, if that proves possible, offer Bromley the opportunity to protect frontline services while making savings.
“We are committed to providing a modern and efficient library service whilst operating within the much publicised financial constraints.”
Councillors on Bromley’s executive committee will make their decision on sharing services tonight.
Find out the result here tomorrow.