A COUNCIL which is slashing hours at 38 libraries says it wants the public’s views on when the facilities should be open.

Facing cuts of nearly £190m, Durham County Council’s Labour cabinet last month agreed to reduce opening times to 36 hours a week at 11 town centre libraries and 20 hours a week at 27 community branches.

Mobile library services will also be cut, in a bid to save nearly £1.5m.
Now council chiefs are asking for people’s views on precisely when each library should be open.

A consultation will begin on Monday and run until Friday, September 28.
Users of the mobile library service, which stops in 37 towns and villages, will also be invited to give their views on where it should stop in future.

Councillor Maria Plews, the council’s cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning, said: "By making changes to our library service we will be able to keep all our libraries open despite the financial pressures we are currently operating under.
"It is important though that people who use the service are able to influence these changes so I would encourage residents to have their say during the consultation."

However, Liberal Democrat councillor Mark Wilkes said: "Durham County Council don’t know the meaning of consultation. They do whatever they want regardless of opinion.
"Thousands of residents called for library opening hours to be preserved. Opposition councillors offered solutions to keep libraries open. Labour ignored us and ignored local residents."
He urged people to sign a petition to save Newton Hall library from cuts, at durham.gov.uk/petitions

People can take part in the consultation by filling in a survey at their library, which will offer a number of hours options. Mobile library users are being sent questionnaires, which are also available from the mobile library.