Campaigners fight plans to cut library opening hours

Members of the Bemont Residents Action Group protesting about possible reduction to the opening hours of their local library at Chevely Park Shops, Belmont, Durham.
Members of the Bemont Residents Action Group protesting about possible reduction to the opening hours of their local library at Chevely Park Shops, Belmont, Durham.
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ANGRY residents are urging council bosses to change plans to slash a library’s opening hours.

Protesters say Belmont library faces more cuts than others in the county, despite being used more.

Members of the Carrville and Belmont Residents’ Association joined Belmont parish councillors outside the library to protest against the cuts.

Parish council chairman Barbara Howarth said: “The county council is preparing to cut the library from 43 hours a week to 20.

“It is more than a 50 per cent cut. Lots of other libraries have lost fewer hours across the county.

“What concerns us is that in deciding how many hours should be cut, they have not taken into consideration the people in the area and the usage.”

Residents say the library is about far more than just lending books, with community activities for all ages.

Pat McKone, 55, described the county council decision as “ridiculous”.

“I have lived here for 30 years and my children have used the library for 30 years,” she said.

“My eldest son now lives in Durham, but he still pops in to use this library. I don’t think anybody disagrees with having to make cuts, but I think the cuts should be pro rata.

“Cutting the library’s hours means the community activities can’t go on because the staff won’t have the time – they will be too busy with the borrowers.”

Mum-of-two Beatrijs Muylaert takes sons Timon, five, and Emile Basu, one, to the library every week.

“I read a lot and I have always brought the kids down,” she said. “They have children’s activities such as story time and other things.

“We read two stories a night and we try to read one in the morning, so we need a lot of books and it is so handy, because we can walk down.

“It is okay for me because I can drive if it is not open, but there are other people who might not have the possibility to do that.”

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