Meeting tonight on library cuts

CUTBACKS by West Sussex County Council could see Steyning Library’s budget axed by 15 per cent next year.

The parish council has organised a special public meeting on the subject and are urging those living in the town to voice any concerns they have.

Despite being a well-used and valued community resource, the library - along with other ‘tier 5 and 6’ libraries such as Henfield and Midhurst - will see its funding reduced to meet County Hall’s projected £1 million saving over the next two years.

Recent County Council budget papers encouraged smaller libraries to respond by exploring “opportunities for co-location, sharing the use/cost of buildings and promoting their use as a community hub” in order to reduce the risk of closure.

“We will need to think creatively about ways in which the community can sustain and hopefully enhance the library as a town resource,” said council chairman, David Barling. “As a vital first step we have organised an open-forum meeting for residents to come and suggest ways in which the town can maintain, and hopefully enhance its library.”

Steyning parish council however is keen to re-assure residents that there is no possibility that the library will be closed.

“We are working closely with the library department on this and our plan is to set up a focus group to move our ideas forward with library staff after full public consultation,” said Mr Barling. “I can’t emphasise how important it is that as many Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding residents as possible attend tonight’s meeting so that the community’s views are fairly represented and we can hear a range of suggestions.”

The meeting takes place tonight (Thursday October 6), 7.45pm at the Steyning Centre, Fletcher’s Croft, and will be attended by West Sussex Information Services manager/chief librarian Lesley Sim

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