Libraries close as staff go on holiday

Libraries across Wolverhampton have been forced to close because staff have been away on holiday.

Staff numbers at the city's libraries has been reduced from 156 to 79 under £123 million cuts - leaving gaping shortages.

When the remaining staff took their booked off holiday over the past few weeks, it was discovered there was not enough cover to keep some of the libraries open.

On other occasions, staff sickness have also led to forced closures.

Council libraries chief councillor Elias Mattu, said: "Unfortunately there have been a few occasions over the last few weeks when we've had to close branches because of employee absence, and I'd like to apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused customers.

"This occurred primarily as a result of sickness or because employees had already booked annual leave prior to the restructure and we were unable to make alternative arrangements. The situation should stabilise over the coming weeks because the booking of annual leave is now coordinated across the library service which means that, where required, we can bring in cover from other libraries.”

Reduced opening hours were introduced in April 2014 as part of the city council’s programme of cuts.

The number of hours libraries are staffed has been reduced 656 hours per week to 421.

The main Central Library, which accounts for around half of all library visits in Wolverhampton, continues to be open 56 hours per week.

Bilston, Warstones and Wednesfield libraries are now staffed for 35 hours per week, Finchfield and Tettenhall libraries 30 hours per week and Ashmore Park, Pendeford and Penn libraries 24 hours per week. Long Knowle, East Park, Low Hill, Spring Vale and Whitmore Reans libraries are staffed for 15 hours per week.

Blakenhall Library, which is part of Blakenhall Community and Healthy Living Centre, is now self-service and is open at the same time as the centre. Collingwood Library at Broadway Gardens remains self-service and continues to operate for 15 hours per week.

Liberal Democrat campaigner Tom Stokes said it showed the council's scheme was flawed.

He said: “Yet again, this Labour council has made a mess and will no doubt blame someone else for their mistake. They always blame anyone and everyone other than themselves when it all hits the fan!”

Councillor Mattu added: “The city council is facing an unprecedented financial challenge as a result of central government cutbacks and must save some £123m by 2018-19 – on top of the £100m it has already had to save over the last few years.

“By reducing library opening hours, we’ve been able to make vital savings while also keeping our libraries open at the times when most people want to use them – and I am sure that customers would agree it is better to have access to libraries with reduced opening hours than to lose them altogether."

Comments for: "Libraries close as staff go on holiday"

charlie17

Councillor Mattu is it a coincidence that sickies were taken when staff were on holiday. I understand that Wolverhampton Council do not interview employees returning from sickness and have no policy to discipline repeat offenders or have them examined by a medical professional. Think this story is to once again tell us all what naughty boys the government have been withdrawing council funding.

I too

Proper Charlie - you say that "Wolverhampton Council do not interview employees returning from sickness"

It is a return to work check that is all that is required to check that the person is fit to return to work. Not a real interview

And "no policy to discipline repeat offenders" - it is an offence to be ill? Is it a law that you can only be ill when not on holiday then? Ummmmm, must be a parallel universe you live it.

The criminals get everywhere.......

To be ill is human, is it not? Especially is you are trying to run a library, go to the loo, stock the shelves, look after the computers and moaners and balance on one leg whilst juggling five balls.

Stress is a killer didn't you know? Nah thought not.

Moan moan moan moan............... Be thankful that there are still some libraries at all to go to. If, not when, DC gets back in the libraries will certainly close for good.

charlie17

If you work in a library you could not have a clue what real stress is. It is being on a zero hours contract with a mortgage to pay and a family to feed. If You work in a library you would have a good rate of pay, a solid pension fund and have for the last 70 years a guaranteed job. How can this be stressful? If you also read my comment it refers to the repeat offenders who throw a sickie to go to a football match, or take a long weekend away, we all know who they are. A very long time ago, when I was in the army we worked with public sector employees, the one I was teamed with went off sick and I was told he would be back in 13 weeks. Turns out he was a bookmaker at the race tracks during the flat racing season, I do not think much has changed in the intervening 60 years.

markie

I worked for 33 years in the public sector, and rarely experienced staff taking sickies.

In the early 70's, I remember one of my staff went sick, yet again, with a headache. To my eternal regret I said to the rest of the section, "Doreen's off sick again with a headache."

She died the next day of a brain tumour.

RicRob

Library staffing has been halved, with a single member of staff at most branches. If that person is ill at short notice then the branch is closed until cover is provided (if available). Experienced, long-serving staff have been paid off, through redundancy or early retirement. How long before the managers who happily wielded the axe are having to recruit? Or will the quieter branches, often in socially deprived areas, be closed permanently?

Annie Bro

Another one to file under "You couldn't mek it up!"

Again, the left wing, meretricious, flibbertigibbets blame the national Government, not themselves ( that shower in The Kremlin of St Peter's Sq);

"We don't interview absentee staff on their return" WTF? Is this Jackass for real!

You keep voting these incompetent clowns in folks, now you reap what you sow

#RIPWolverhampton

markie

Is this news? I've seen High St. shops and cafes closed due to staff illness don't see that in the papers.