A bid to have controversial proposals to axe jobs from the borough’s library service put on hold has been thrown out.
The motion was raised at a meeting of the full council by Little Neston and Burton ward councillor Louise Gittins (Lab), who is opposition culture chief. She was backed by Labour’s deputy leader Cllr Samantha Dixon.
This year’s council approved budget requires the net loss of the equivalent of 16.43 full time posts in the Localities directorate which includes libraries.
The council points out, however, new jobs are available which are open to professional and non-professional staff who are at risk and some of the affected posts are currently vacant.
Cllr Gittins’s motion asked the council to agree that ‘in times of austerity, Cheshire West and Chester Council recognises the value that high quality library services bring to our communities’.
These ranged from the promotion of knowledge and learning to access to information technology.
“As members of council, we also recognise that libraries are about people and not just about the buildings in which they are accommodated.
“Therefore we recognise the essential contribution professional librarians make to the service,” she argued.
Cllr Gittins’s motion pointed to a statement by Arts Council England that ‘there is a clear, compelling and continuing need for a publicly funded library service’.
It concluded: “We therefore call on council to support libraries and librarians and halt the current re-organisation of the library service until a full and comprehensive consultation has taken place with the community and with members of council across the borough.”
This would ‘establish precisely what our communities and their elected representatives want and need from their libraries and their librarians’.
The Tory controlled council decided not to debate her motion.
These are to be replaced by a mobile library although the number of mobile library vehicles is being reduced from two to one.
A staff consultation ends on May 2 with the new structure implemented from July 1.
A Cheshire West and Chester Council spokesperson said at an earlier stage the revised staffing structure to support library services reflected the fact that many customers increasingly use self-service technology or online information sources.
The council also wants to target resources where there is most need.
“Inevitably there will be fewer staff at larger libraries and work patterns will in some cases have to change so that busy times are catered for.
“Customers will see a change to the way services are delivered, for example customers with complex bibliographical and general enquiries which need to be answered by a librarian will still be dealt with by professional staff, remotely.
“Library services will continue to be a very important service and plans are currently being formulated to invest further in library services to ensure their continued success.”