Second phase of library consultation 

Photo of Bolton Central Library
Central Library would become the hub of the new library network

All residents in Bolton will have the chance to have their say on a set of new proposals for the future of the library network.

An online survey is now available on the council website until midnight on September 16.

In addition, surveys will be sent to a random sample of 7,000 residents in order to obtain a fair representation of the borough.

Last Thursday (July 28), 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 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.

Farnworth, Little Lever, Horwich, Harwood and Westhoughton would become the five key community libraries for the borough, and the first point of contact for wider council services.

There could be potential to develop health and wellbeing and digital services at Breightmet and High Street libraries, and Blackrod and Bromley Cross libraries would offer 24 hours a week.

New neighbourhood collections are being proposed to provide an alternative to library buildings at Astley Bridge, Highfield, Castle Hill, Oxford Grove and Heaton. The service would be located in a partner facility, providing a book collection and a link through to the wider service.

Option two would see a proposed reduction of 188.75 hours a week, which equates to 33 per cent across all 15 libraries, and option three would result in 253 reduced hours, which equates to 48 per cent, at all but Central Library.

Each option would save the council in the region of £400,000 but options two and three have more of an impact on staff numbers.

The Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, 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 around library closures in Bolton and throughout the UK. 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 that we seek the views of people on all three options, so that we can determine how the network can be shaped for the future. I would encourage people to take part in the survey and express their opinion on all three options before any final decision is made.”

The decision to review the library network was taken by the Executive in February following a reduction in government funding.

The council embarked on a 12-week consultation process which resulted in 3,824 responses that have directly informed how the savings could be made in the three options.

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Karen Spibey
01204 332064