Fears over proposed council cuts at the new £800k Driffield Centre

By Debbie Sutton

Members of a reading group fear a proposed reduction to the opening hours at Driffield’s library and customer service centre could impact the future of their group.

The Wednesday Reading Group, which has 16 members, meets on the first Wednesday of every month at the Driffield Centre at Cross Hill. However under proposals made by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the opening times of the centre would reduce from 42 to 33 hours a week, which would see the centre being closed all day on a Wednesday and shorter opening hours during the rest of the week.

These proposals form part of a wider review of all library and multi service centres across the East Riding and are now subject of a public consultation, which will run until Wednesday 3 August, 2016.

The Driffield reading group is urging people to take part in the consultation and make their views heard.

The group said: “This reading group has been in existence for at least 15 years and was set up by the library itself. We meet on the first Wednesday of every month because this is a mutually convenient time for everyone. It will not be easy to change the day we meet because everyone has other commitments.

“The centre is extremely busy and a reduction in the opening hours will make it even more difficult to find a time and space to accommodate us and other groups using the centre.

“These proposals will not just have an impact on our group but will affect the Driffield community as a whole because there will be fewer opportunities for people to access the council services here.

“We will have to seriously consider what will be viable for our group if these proposals go ahead.”

The Driffield Centre opened in January this year after undergoing an £800,000 refurbishment to incorporate the customer service centre and registrar’s service from West Garth with the library service. People are now being asked to give their views on the reduced opening hours at the Driffield Centre, along with other proposals across the East Riding which include:

• Investing a further £7.4 million in six more multi-service centres in the next three years, to be located at Beverley, Cottingham, Goole, Hedon, Hornsea and Howden.
• Not using volunteers to run library branches, and only using volunteers on specific initiatives like the Summer Reading Challenge (as now).
• Installing free wifi in all library branches, upgrading the People’s Network of freeto-use computer terminals, introducing EBooks, and developing health and wellbeing opportunities.
• Retaining a library or multi-service centre in each major town or larger village, but with reduced opening hours.
• Offering an improved online library catalogue, and more self service and mobile technology, allowing access to library services outside normal opening hours.
• Retaining a mobile library service across the East Riding, but with a reduction in that service.

The New Driffield Centre
The Driffield Centre opened in January this year after undergoing an £800,000 refurbishment

These proposals would save around £1.2 million from the council’s budget. Darren Stevens, head of culture and information, said: “These are challenging times financially and so savings do have to be made. However, I am confident that these proposals will make our library and customer services more sustainable, whilst continuing to deliver a service not only to our main centres of population but also to our more isolated and vulnerable residents.”

The consultation is available online at www.eastriding.gov.uk/proposalconsultation

Paper questionnaires are available at branch libraries, mobile libraries, multi-service centres, Customer Service Centres, East Riding Leisure Centres, and children’s centres.

A drop-in session will also be held at the Driffield Centre on Thursday 14 July from 1pm – 4pm.

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