Sussex

East Sussex council closes seven libraries

Library Image copyright PA
Image caption Demand for the county's libraries has fallen, the council said

More than a quarter of libraries in East Sussex will close, county councillors have agreed.

Following a 12 week public consultation, the cabinet approved officers' recommendation to shut seven of 24 libraries and provide a "sustainable library service" while saving £653,000.

Petitions against the closures accumulated nearly 9,000 signatures.

Council spokesman Nick Skelton said the decision was "not taken lightly".

Those closing are at Langney, Mayfield, Ore, Pevensey Bay, Polegate, Ringmer and Willingdon.

The county's library service remains popular, with over 230,000 members but visits to libraries and loans have dropped by 40% in 10 years, while the use of the e-library (from which users can renew and reserve books and download publications) has increased.

'Unprecedented'

Of the 3,600 responses from the consultation, two thirds of people could access library services in another way under the closures, and 86% would still be within a 20-minute journey to another library by public transport.

The council is also cutting the mobile library service and instead using the Home Library Service for those unable to travel.

It now plans to focus resources on improving literacy, the e-library and creating a community library for people to borrow books in village halls or community centres.

Margaret Martin, from campaign group Friends of Pevensey Bay Library, said they "perfectly understand that libraries are used differently now" but that the council "could have done more" to help those losing out.

Mr Skelton added: "Faced with unprecedented levels of cuts in government funding, we have to prioritise our resources towards areas with the highest levels of need.

"We will work with community groups and organisations who'd like to explore establishing a community library at those libraries that are due to close as part of the new strategy."

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