Suffolk’s library service welcomes new funding deal for next four years

Alison Wheeler welcomed the certainty offered by the new budget. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Alison Wheeler welcomed the certainty offered by the new budget. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Suffolk's library services have expressed relief after appearing to escape further serious cuts in next year's county council budget.

It welcomed Suffolk County Council proposals which will provide stability for the county's library service over the next four years.

The county council has proposed a budget for the remaining four years of Suffolk Libraries' five-year contract, which would involve an initial one-off reduction of £50,000 for 2018/19 but would then remain at the same level for the next four years with no further funding cuts.

The proposals form part of the county council's budget plans. These are still subject to discussion over the next few months with the council due to confirm its budget in February 2018.

Tony Brown, chairman of Suffolk Libraries Board, said: 'We welcome the proposed funding offer to support the library service consistently over the next four years.

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'We especially appreciate this relatively long-term commitment at a time when the county council continues to face difficult budget constraints.

'This creative proposal will allow us to focus on improving the quality and quantity of services we provide across the county.

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'It is a reward for what our staff and volunteers are already delivering; and for the time and energy expended by both parties in ensuring we have a constructive partnership based on understanding, and fulfilling the needs of people in the communities we serve.'

Alison Wheeler, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, added: 'The plans demonstrate the county council's commitment to the library service and a recognition that we have already saved 33pc of the original budget whilst still delivering a comprehensive service which delivers great value for money. Our library service has faced many challenges but we still have so much to be proud of and I am convinced that we have the potential to really make a difference in the community and to people's lives in the future.'

Suffolk cabinet member Tony Goldson said: 'Suffolk's libraries are a high quality community resource, and we are committed to supporting them. We are working to ensure that we make the best possible use of them through the services we commission.'

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