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Odiham library to close its doors permanently

3 minute read
Odiham library to close its doors permanently

Published at 12:59pm 31st July 2020. (Updated at 1:03pm 31st July 2020)

A number  of Hampshire libraries are going to be shut for good including in Odiham.

After a two-hour long debate, plans to close eight of the 48 county council-run libraries across Hampshire were given the green light.

Hampshire County Council will also withdraw its support to community libraries in Lowford, Milford-on-Sea and North Baddesley.

All the remaining libraries will have their opening hours reduced by an average of 20%, with a public consultation on the details set to be launched next month.

But county bosses previously said that the opening hours of some libraries could increase or decrease by up to 39% “to achieve a standardised approach”.

The decision was taken by Cllr Sean Woodward, executive member for recreation and heritage at Hampshire County Council, during a virtual meeting held earlier this week.

He approved plans to close libraries in Blackfield and Lyndhurst in the New Forest, Fair Oak Library in Fair Oak,  South Ham  in Basingstoke, Elson library in Gosport, Horndean in East Hampshire, Lee-on-the-Solent library in Gosport and Odiham library in Hart.

Meanwhile,  Chineham library in Basingstoke and  Emsworth library in Havant  – which were also under threat – will remain open.

The move will save the county council £1.76m.

At the meeting, Cllr Woodward said the move is “a compromise”.

But residents and some councillors asked him to re-think the proposals and save all libraries. They raised concerns over the impact the closure would have on local communities.

Speaking at the meeting, representatives of Friends of Chineham library, said: “These cuts will affect all kind of people but it will disproportionately affect children, parents of young children, women, people on lower income, the elderly and the isolated. Save all the libraries.”

Some opposition councillors asked Cllr Woodward to provide ongoing support to groups who would want to use the libraries’ buildings.

Cllr Keith House, leader of the opposition, asked Cllr Woodward to look into a possible transition of the affected libraries into community libraries and ask full council to make a final decision.

Cllr Woodward said this was a decision for the executive but he said that the plans had been scrutinised by the select committee.

He approved the proposal, but agreed that all the 12 libraries affected by the move will be able to apply for grants and ask for advice should they wish to become independent libraries.

He added: “What I am going to put forward is a compromise.”

The council had previously stressed it has a comprehensive library service.

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