Residents are to get more time to have their say on big changes to the borough’s library services.
South Tyneside Council has extended the consultation on library services, which opened in June, until end of September.
The authority says it has listened to the views of residents and taken the decision to extend the consultation further so that as many people as possible have an opportunity to take part.
Under new proposals library services would be on offer at four multi-service “hubs” at The Word, Hebburn Central Library, Jarrow Hub and Cleadon Park, while the council would also look to community groups to take over the running of Whitburn, East Boldon, Boldon Lane and Primrose libraries on a voluntary basis.
The consultation will now run until September 30, after which the responses will be analysed and a report prepared for presentation to the council’s cabinet later in the autumn.
Coun Alan Kerr, lead member for culture and leisure at South Tyneside Council, said: “Having listened to feedback and to ensure we maximise the opportunity for the community to put forward their views regarding the future of this valued service, it is proposed to extend the consultation period.”
The council argues that it continues to face unprecedented financial pressures and is looking to provide the best service possible with its resources.
Coun Kerr added: “The way that people use our libraries is changing and we must change with them.
“We are committed to delivering an affordable, sustainable, modern and efficient library service that meets the changing needs of our residents.
“We have come up with some proposals about what the borough’s library service could look like in the future and would like to hear what the people think, and listen to any alterative suggestions they may have.
“One thing is clear – any organisation losing almost 50 per cent of its funding cannot afford to maintain the status quo.
“These funding cuts are set to continue and we must do all we can to protect vital services, like our library service, by delivering them in the most cost-effective way.”
Comments on the proposals can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or residents can complete an online questionnaire at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/libraries.
Hard copies of the questionnaire are available at all libraries and at both South Shields and Jarrow Town Hall receptions.