As VB readers will be well aware, the Isle of Wight council is currently reviewing all services they provide, leading to potential loss of around 300 jobs.
Massive cuts to Library Service
We understand that a meeting was held yesterday with employees of the Island’s Library Service, where some worrying news was discussed.
Although this is yet unconfirmed with the council, our source tells us that during the meeting, it was revealed that a minimum of one library and a maximum of six libraries would remain open on the Isle of Wight.
With only 11 libraries currently open to the public that means at least five libraries will close under the review, possibly ten.
Self-service machines being considered
Some of the options for those remaining libraries could include self-service machines and kiosks, as well as staff who leave being replaced by volunteers.
Our source went on to say that all staff will have to re-apply for different jobs within the service and that a large proportion of library staff were very distressed by the news they received in the meeting.
Libraries, Adult Social Care, Museum and Heritage services, Tourist Information Centres and the Ventnor Botanic Gardens are just a few of the non-statutory services under scrutiny.
We’ll update this article once we’ve been able to confirm the position with the council.
Update: We asked whether the news we’d reported was true and were given this response.
IW Council chief executive Steve Beynon, said: “Because of the current economic climate and the subsequent large reduction in money made available to local authorities, the council will have to save £32 million pound over the next four years. Around £17 million of this will need to be saved in the first year. As a result, the council is looking across all its services to see whether they can be delivered more efficiently.
“Both the library service and the Waterside Pool are part of this process. At the moment however, no decisions have been taken. The way forward will be discussed by the council’s Cabinet on 7 December 2010.
“The papers for that meeting will be published on the council’s website www.iwight.com by 5.00pm on 29 November. While we cannot until that time say what those papers will recommend – nor, of course, what Cabinet will decide – it is clear that “no change” will not be an option due to the financial constraints placed upon the council. The Cabinet’s decisions will then be the subject of public consultation.
“While this is clearly an unsettling time for staff and residents, the council will explore every possible opportunity and partnership arrangement to maintain as many services as possible within its greatly reduced budget.”
Our thoughts are with those whose jobs may be at risk.