By Richard Fleury
A councillor’s claim that Faversham library is ‘hardly used’ for half the week is completely false, according to official figures.
Town and Swale councillor Mike Cosgrove (Conservative) made the claim on Facebook in response to a petition against proposed library cuts.
Appearing to defend Kent County Council’s controversial decision to slash the library’s opening hours just months after a £250,000 refurbishment, he claimed: “I am a library user and know that on three days a week it is hardly used”.
Kent County Council does not currently count visitor numbers to Faversham library but borrowing figures show Saturday is by far the busiest day with an average 315 books issued and Tuesday is the busiest weekday with 280 borrowed. But even on the quietest day, Wednesday, librarians loan out 244 books.
Last summer Conservative-controlled KCC spent more than £247,000 on extensive improvements to the library, including new disabled facilities, new carpet, furniture and decoration. Yet, the council proposes cutting opening hours by 30 percent, from 53 hours a week to just 37.
Faversham Library currently opens 9am-6pm.
Losing 16 hours could close our library for one extra day a week and shorten opening hours on other days.
The cuts are part of a controversial county-wide scheme that aims to save £1 million a year. The proposals have met strong opposition in Faversham with hundreds signing petitions urging KCC to reconsider.
The second most popular library in Swale (after Sittingbourne), Faversham welcomes around 2,000 visitors a week. Yet while Faversham is set to lose opening hours under the proposals, smaller, less well used libraries will have their hours increased. Nearby Teynham, for example, which has just 70 visitors per week, would open for an extra eight hours weekly.
Campaigners say the proposals target those most reliant on public services, ignore the economic benefits library visitors bring to the town and are a false economy, with a 30 percent cut in services delivering savings of only ten percent.
Despite Coun Cosgrove’s comments seemingly supporting the cuts, Faversham Town Council has voted to oppose the planned reduction of hours.
And town and county councillor Anthony Hook (Lib Dem) launching his own petition urging KCC to reconsider.
KCC’s official consultation is now closed. A report will be presented to the Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee on 7 March before a decision is taken by the Cabinet Member for Communities and Regulatory Services, Coun Mike Hill.
Until then, you can email coun Mike Hill at KCC at email@example.com and/or sign one or both of the petitions calling for the proposals to be scrapped at:
http://www.favlibdems.com/keep_our_libraries_open Coun Anthony Hook’s petition
This article previously stated that the library was open until 8pm on Thursdays, we were informed this was not the case and having checked with the library we have since removed this.