Library hours cut in £20k council savings bid

Stuart Currie has hit out at the cutbacks. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Stuart Currie has hit out at the cutbacks. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Libraries across East Lothian are set to have their evening opening hours slashed as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Seven libraries will have their hours reduced from December in a bid to help trim £20,000 from council budgets.

East Linton, Musselburgh and Port Seton will lose two-and-a-half hours each week, with Gullane and Port Seton set to be hit by three hours.

Longniddry and Haddington libraries will also be affected, with officials cutting opening by two hours and 90 minutes per week respectively.

But the move has prompted an angry response from councillors after the changes were voted through without consultation.

Councillor Stuart Currie, representing Musselburgh East, said the cuts were an “attack on the heart of our communities”.

“It is deeply concerning that these cuts to our libraries have been approved by councillors without any debate or a paper coming to the council,” he said.

“Cutting services in our award-winning libraries is the wrong thing to do.”

Jeremy Findlay, from Gullane Community Council, said the changes would harm community groups that use the town’s library to meet.

From December 1, Gullane Library will be open for three hours a day on Thursdays.

He said: “Several groups rely on the library as a meeting place, and restrictions on hours could be devastating for some of those people.”

Irene Tait, chair of Musselburgh Community Council, said the town’s library was one of the busiest in East Lothian.

She said: “We can only hope this is just a temporary measure, because it’s going to make some people very unhappy.”

Not every library in East Lothian will see its opening times cut, with an extra 11 hours per week at Dunbar.

An e-mail sent to councillors last week said officials had been forced to bypass a public consultation because of the need to implement the budget cuts as soon as possible.

It read: “We would normally undertake such a review with public consultation, but there was a need to make savings for this financial year.”

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “The decision to make changes to opening hours in some of our libraries is driven by the need to make best use of public resources. Library opening times are informed by the use that people make of them and are adjusted accordingly.

“We continue to monitor library and other facility operating hours to ensure that we can provide customers with optimum service experience within resources available to us.”