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Anger over cuts to Doncaster’s libraries

Lynne Coppendale (right) and fellow protesters pictured outside Armthorpe library.

Lynne Coppendale (right) and fellow protesters pictured outside Armthorpe library.

Library users have spoken of their anger over library cuts that will leave just four council-run libraries across the borough.

The news was announced as part of a £109 million cuts budget proposed yesterday by Mayor Ros Jones.

The plans will also lead to 1,200 council employees being made redundant, four day centres closing, and a council tax rise for households of just under two per cent.

The council says libraries in Armthorpe, Askern, Bentley, Cantley, Conisbrough, Hatfield, Tickhill and Woodlands should become community managed, staffed entirely by volunteers, which the council estimates will save £800,000.

That will be in addition to the 12 libraries across the borough already community-run.

Plans to cease the mobile library service in 2014/15, which costs £130,000 to run, have also been announced.

Campaigner for Save Doncaster Libraries, Lynne Coppendale, said the proposals were ‘ridiculous’.

The 41 year-old, of Canterbury Road in Wheatley, added: “We already know that as a borough Doncaster has below-average levels of literacy and this will only get worse now even more libraries are going to lose their trained staff.

“My local library in Wheatley is run by volunteers, and is open only 11 hours a week.

“What are people who depend on those libraries going to do now? Lots of people have to use the libraries to look for jobs or they get their benefits sanctioned. Those people can’t afford to be paying to travel across Doncaster to get to another library.”

Mayor Jones said the way Doncaster Council looks after and delivers services will have to be different, in order to ‘survive the ongoing cuts to our funding’.

She added: “I have been working with officers in every part of the council to undertake a root and branch assessment of what we currently provide. The simple truth is we cannot stay the same.”

But Unison Regional Organiser for Doncaster, Melanie Onn, warned the latest wave of cuts and job losses could mean the council is no longer able to fulfil its basic service responsibilities.

“Our staff are very worried about their jobs and the future,” she said.

“More staff going will mean so many services people in Doncaster rely on, like transport, are severely reduced. The council has already lost 1,200 employees, and remaining staff are struggling to provide the best service for people as it is.”

 

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