Sutton Council is being forced to look at changes to the library service due to unprecedented government cuts to its annual budget. As a result, it has to save £74m from its annual budget between 2011 and 2019. The council’s annual revenue budget is currently £148.4m (2015/16).
So far the council has saved £43m from its annual budget, with a further £31m to go.
As part of the cost-cutting measures, the council has identified £1m of savings from the annual libraries, heritage and art budget, which currently stands at £4.4m. It launched the campaign through its Sutton’s Future campaign to ensure that residents can have their say in the future of the service.
Options for consultation include the closure of Beddington Library, the discontinuation of the Mobile Library service, considering a community library model that increases the number of volunteers and volunteer roles, and sharing services with a neighbouring borough.
An enhanced housebound library service to cater for vulnerable residents is already being provided in partnership with Sutton’s Old People’s Welfare Committee, who provide Meals on Wheels services for the council.
Cllr Jill Whitehead, Chair of the Environment and Neighbourhoods Committee at Sutton Council, said:
“We have had a tremendous response to our consultation so far and there is still time to have your say.
“While we have to reshape our library service because of Government cuts to our budget, we want to maintain the quality and customer standards that people expect.”
The library consultation is through the council’s Sutton’s Future campaign, which was launched last year to involve residents in helping to make savings due to unprecedented government cuts. It includes an online survey, available here, and an independent telephone survey of 1,000 residents.
In January 2015 Sutton Council adopted a Library Strategy for the borough’s library service, setting out the strategic and operational direction for the service to 2019. It has four key aims:
Literacy: growing the readers of the future.
Meeting the needs of an aging population.
Narrowing the digital divide.
Creating a viable, sustainable and quality service within available budgets.