Bromley - Bexley library merger nears fruition
»Nearly 100 library workers and members of the public packed into the public gallery as councillors came one step closer to merging services with neighbouring Bexley.
The meeting took place at the Civic Centre last Tuesday evening.
Under the plans, some libraries would have their opening hours cut by more than half.
St Pauls Cray and Mottingham libraries would be reduced from 43 hours per week to just 14 while Chislehurst and West Wickham would be slashed from 44 hours to 20.
Paul Rooney, from Bromley Cuts Concern lobby group, said: “The 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.
“Despite over 6,000 people signing the anti-cuts and privatisation petition, the extremists on Bromley Council remain determined to sell off our libraries.”
The council claims the plans to share office staff and cut opening hours will save it £350,000.
It is also investigating the option of creating a not-for-profit trust organisation which would allow library premises to qualify for an 80 per cent relief in business rates.
Recreation councillor Peter Morgan said: “These two proposals – the shared back office and the trust option – 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 financial constraints,” added Cllr Morgan, councillor for renewal and recreation.
The executive are due to make the final decision next Wednesday.