‘Sleepless nights’ for councillor in charge of fate of libraries as final decision made

Save Nottingham Libraries campaigners outside Loxley House ahead of a decision
By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter

The councillor in charge of Nottingham’s libraries says he experienced “many, many sleepless nights” before the city council was pressured into a decision to save three from the axe.

Instead of the closures, opening times across the city library network will be reduced by 42.5 hours in total as part of revised plans to save three from complete closure.

The Labour-run authority put forward newly-recommended proposals to save the Radford-Lenton Library, Aspley Library and Basford Library following opposition from campaign group Save Nottingham Libraries.

It had planned to save £79,000 per year by closing the three libraries, but the council has instead opted to cut opening hours instead to make the saving needed.

The new proposals were approved by councillors during an Executive Board meeting at council headquarters Loxley House on January 17.

The decision was celebrated by campaigners outside the building who let off party poppers to signify the end of a year-long battle.

Speaking after the meeting on January 17 Cllr Pavlos Kotsonis (Lab), the portfolio holder for libraries, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he’d had “many, many sleepless nights”.

He said: “It is our duty as well as councillors, as people who represent our community, to find the best possible solutions.

“In this particular instance we were able to work it out and, as explained, with lots of work being done by everybody and lots of love for the service as well.

“We achieved it, we arrived at the outcome we really wanted.

“Is it always the case we can arrive to that outcome? I don’t think it is, and that is the position we are in.

“But that does not mean we won’t struggle for it, we won’t fight for it.

“There will be further decisions and there will be the need to find funds from all our services.”

The Meadows Library will undergo the most significant cuts to its opening hours – an eight-hour reduction each week.

Clifton Library, which typically opened between 9am and 1pm on Wednesdays, will now close on this day.

Similarly Aspley Library, which will undergo a £50,000 redesign so it can be used as a stock distribution hub as well as a library, will now close on Thursdays instead of opening between 9am and 1pm.

Typically most libraries will see opening hours reduced by around four hours per week.

Des Conway, a campaigner for the Save Nottingham Libraries group, added: “We are feeling ecstatic from the outcome today, it has basically been our objective from the very outset to save the three libraries and that is exactly what we have done with the decision today.

“We actually started the campaign in February last year with a lobby on the Executive Board, protesting about their decision, so in a sense we have come full-circle by book-ending that lobby with this celebratory lobby today.”

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