THE libraries earmarked for closure will remain open under new proposals – but with opening hours slashed.

As part of the Royal Borough’s transformation strategy, which would offer a 24/7 digital library service to residents, the council was looking at savings within the service – which included closures and change of hours.

A 12-week consultation was launched, which ran from February 6 to April 30, and just over 1,000 responded.

Officers have reviewed and analysed the feedback and have put forward proposals on the future of borough’s libraries and the service – which will go to a communities overview and scrutiny meeting next Tuesday.

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The most controversial move was considerations to close Boyn Grove Library, which would’ve saved £22,000, where angry residents launched a petition urging the council to think again.

Under the new proposals, the library will remain open – but will have its current 20 hours per week opening hours cut to 13 hours.

The report states this made possible by introducing a new scheme which would involve retiring the mobile library vehicle, which the report says it’s at its “end of life”, and the accessibility service.

This would be replaced by a select and deliver service with 50 new volunteers involved to support people with disabilities.

They say by doing this, it will not only save the Royal Borough £292,000, but also all libraries can remain open and deliver 314.5 opening hours per week, which is 97 hours more than originally proposed.

While this is more than anticipated, the overall opening hours are still below the current hours of 354 per week.

Royal Borough Observer: Datchet LibraryDatchet Library

The other libraries that were earmarked to close, including Datchet, Old Windsor, and Sunninghill, have avoided closure too but will see reduced hours per week.

These libraries will see funding contributions from their respective parish councils and local trusts.

Dedworth library’s hours were considered to be cut to 13 hours per week – but that plan has been scrapped and the current 23 hours will remain.

In the future, this service could be supported by the proposed Windsor Town Council, if formed, to support the library.

The council is also eyeing to retain a container library in Wraysbury in order to save £55,000 per year in towing costs and close three others in Holyport, Furze Platt, and Woodlands Park.

In the report, councillor Samantha Rayner (Con: Eton & Castle), deputy leader and lead member for resident services, said: “The teams will continue to look at diversity, need and technology to grow and shape the libraries.

“Books are at the heart of the library and this is a key priority for the Royal Borough libraries so continually evolving and promoting literature and culture will be key to the success.

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“Residents who are unable to visit physical library locations will continue to benefit from an enhanced Select and Deliver / Home Library Service which will ensure they have access to all the books they wish to read.

“The Royal Borough sees its work with partners as being a key part of its future to support needs close to each location and tailor resources.”

Cabinet will decide to implement this on June 24, where the process is planned to begin this October and be completed next April.