RESIDENTS are being urged to have their say on the future of Bolton’s libraries.
Following Bolton Council’s decision last week to consider closing five branches across the borough, as part of a drive to save £400,000, town hall chiefs have now launched a sixweek consultation on the issue.
As well as an online survey, and to ensure the council gets a statistically sound picture of the whole borough, surveys are also being sent to 7,000 random households.
Cllr Cliff Morris, Bolton Council leader, said: “Reviewing the library network has been a decision that has not been taken lightly and we are fully aware of the level of feeling.
“However, we have taken on board the views of the people of Bolton and created what we believe to be a viable and sustainable preferred option for the future of the library network.
“It is now vital we seek the views of people on all three options, so we can determine how the network can be shaped for the future.”
Last Thursday, Bolton Council’s executive agreed to further consultation on a set of three new proposals for the library network.
Option one, which was the executive’s preferred option, would see the library network reduced from 15 to 10—with the closure of the libraries at Astley Bridge, Heaton, Highfield and Oxford Grove — and a proposed reduction of 145 hours per week.
Central Library would become the hub of the network, opening 65 hours a week, to include Sundays, which will also mean the Museum and Aquarium would also be open.
The libraries at Farnworth, Little Lever, Horwich, Harwood and Westhoughton, Breightmet, High Street, Blackrod and Bromley Cross would see their opening hours varied to provide residents with a “tiered”
New neighbourhood collections are being proposed to provide an alternative to library buildings at sites facing closure, providing a book collection and drop-off service.
The other two options, which bosses fear may fall foul of the council’s obligations under the Public Libraries Act 1964, would have seen library opening hours cut dramatically across the whole network.
The online survey is available at bolton.gov.uk/libraries until midnight on September 16.