Budleigh library hours cut

The opening hours of Budleigh Salterton Library will be slashed 20 per cent to save cash.

Last week county chiefs backed reduced hours for most of the county’s 50 libraries, to be phased in between September and March.

Budleigh’s library currently opens 34 hours a week from 10am to 7pm on four days and 10am to 1pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The new schedule will be for 27 hours. It follows a public consultation that drew 8,000 replies across Devon, 422 of which were from Budleigh’s 2,693 borrowers.

Last year there were 65,777 issues at the library and Mayor Dick Mitchell said: “I am very disappointed. The library is a valuable resource and a valuable learning resource for younger people. Longer hours give greater flexibility. But, if given a choice, I would rather see the library open for a shorter period on one day.

Steve Dace, chief officer of Age Concern, said: “Some councils have said keeping libraries open would put services for vulnerable and elderly people at risk. However the mass closure and attempt to reduce the opening hours of public libraries is hitting older people.”

Devon’s cabinet member for libraries, Cllr Roger Croad, said: “We are committed to keeping our libraries open and have the public’s support to do so. However, savings do have to be made.”

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A county council spokesman added: “We’re not as far down the line yet as to be able to say how this will translate to day to day opening hours. That’s now got to be the subject of consultation with staff about how we can deliver these new hours, while not forgetting the responses we’ve had back in the consultation from library users who have shown us when they use the libraries.”