Delay to report on cuts plan for Sheffield’s library service

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PUBLICATION has been delayed of a report by council chiefs into how savings should be made to Sheffield’s £6 million libraries budget.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for communities, said details of the council’s savings plans will not be revealed until the New Year.

A public consultation was launched in September, with members of the public asked to give their views on the future of libraries and suggest ideas for how money could be saved.

Drop-in sessions were held where members of the public could ask questions of library officers and users were invited to fill in forms at libraries.

Coun Iqbal has said closure of some of Sheffield’s 27 district and local libraries cannot be ruled out.

He said: “A report on the outcome of the consultation and our plans for the future of library services is to be published in the New Year.

“I cannot reveal any details of the report at this stage but a lot of time and trouble has gone into considering this important service’s future.”

Coun Iqbal said the report’s publication has been delayed partly by factors including the council not knowing the exact level of Government grant for the next financial year until later this week.

The grant is crucial because it is one of the council’s biggest sources of funding.

Officers are expecting a reduction which will mean they have to make £50 million in savings during 2013/14.

Sheffield Council has promised it has no ‘secret hit list’ of libraries earmarked for closure although recent figures for library use in 2011/12 show some libraries were used six times more than others.

The busiest library outside of the city centre was Ecclesall, which had 376,080 visits, compared with 47,387 at Tinsley. Jordanthorpe also had only 54,317 visits.

But library users have urged the council not to implement any closures and instead look at other ways to save money.

Sheffield Council’s consultation form asked people’s views on ideas such as greater use of volunteers to staff libraries or changing opening hours.

The council’s consultation on libraries closed in October.

What do you think should happen to our libraries? Email: letters@thestar.co.uk