SLOUGH libraries will remain open with reduced hours, but the future remains uncertain for next year.

Following a 12-week consultation, cabinet members agreed at a meeting to keep all four library buildings with reduced opening and staffing hours rather than close the Langley and Cippenham libraries.

This will deliver a saving of £400,000 to the 2022/23 budget.

Within the consultation, which received 2,522 responses online, 81 per cent of the respondents agreed to keep all the buildings open with reduced opening and staffing hours as well as for the council to look at co-locating other services or businesses with the library buildings to provide an additional revenue stream via rent space.

Currently, all libraries have staff available for all the hours they are open, which is 59 hours per week at The Curve and 48 hours per week at the other three library buildings.

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The new opening and staffing hours include:

  • The Curve: 40 hours per week. Open for self-service only 18 hours per week
  • Britwell: 22 hours per week. Open for self-service only 20 hours per week.
  • Cippenham: 23 hours per week. Open for self-service only is not currently available
  • Langley: 25 hours per week. Open for self-service only is not currently available

Council leader James Swindlehurst (Lab: Cippenham Green) said this gives residents a 12-month guarantee the libraries will remain open but it “doesn’t future proof” the service.

Speaking at the meeting on Monday, March 21, he said: “A whole load of people who set themselves up to say this was all about the service being shut this year, it isn’t being shut for the next 12-months.

“That doesn’t underestimate the scale of some of the hour reductions because clearly, we are chopping some quite big wedges of the day out of particular sites.

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“But the one thing about why we took so much time in getting the information from people about when they liked to use the libraries is the aim in terms of working on how we make those hour reductions is that we do it at the time the fewest people are in them, and the fewest people want them because there is no point heating and lighting and staffing a building to have no customers and a tumbleweed blowing through it.”

Richard West, executive director of customers and community, said they would get better clarity on what services could be co-located with the library buildings once they know what assets the council is planning to sell off in order to bridge its financial gap.

The council has a budget of £220,500 to spend on publications but has now agreed to slash this to £90,000.

Council officers will keep cabinet members updated on further potential plans to transform the library service throughout the year.