Jobs set to go as Bromley and Bexley library staff merge

Members of the public protesting in February this year  when Bromley Council first announced its budget cuts

Members of the public protesting in February this year when Bromley Council first announced its budget cuts

Up to 36 jobs will be lost as plans to merge Bromley and Bexley library office staff were approved by councillors.

Bromley Council’s executive rubber-stamped the proposals on Wednesday of last week, which it claims could produce savings of up to £350,000.

The council is also investigating cutting library opening hours to make savings.

Under those plans, St Pauls Cray and Mottingham libraries would be cut from 43 hours per week to 14, while Chislehurst and West Wickham would go from 44 hours to 20.

The council agreed to set up a not-for-profit trust which enables library premises to qualify for 80 per cent relief in business rates.

Paul Summers, of lobby group Bromley Cuts Concern, said: “This means job cuts and that’s the main concern. They are talking about shorter opening hours. If you have two libraries close together, then one will be open while the other is closed. It will hit the poor more than the rich as people who don’t have computers go to the libraries to use the internet. Are all these cuts really necessary? The amount of debt we are in is a quarter of that after the Second World War. These austerity measures are far too severe.”

The council insists the merger is necessary to keep libraries open.

Cllr Peter Morgan, cabinet member for recreation, said: “The shared back office and management agreement with Bexley protects frontline services and makes savings.

“The trust option creates additional savings and again protects the service itself. These are not easy decisions and we are facing unprecedented pressures.

We will now look at individual libraries to maximise efficiencies, but we remain committed to providing a modern and efficient library service.”

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