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Libraries face job cuts in restructure

Sandwell | News | Published:

Restructure plans have been revealed for a library service, with job losses proposed to cut costs. Six management posts will be cut from Sandwell's Library and Information Service.

Proposals were outlined in a report that was heard at a meeting of the Town and Neighbourhood Services Decision Making Committee last night. The report submitted to the head of the service, councillor Mahboob Hussain, recommends that all of the 14.86 management posts currently held at the council's libraries are deleted and replaced with just 8.86 posts.

Of the six posts set to go, four are currently vacant and will be dissolved, but two members of staff will be offered voluntary redundancy.

There will also be changes to how the council's archive service is managed that will see the services frontline provision run from Smethwick Library, but the number of jobs will remain the same.

Councillor Mahboob Hussain said: "We have always said that we were going to protect frontline services and so far we haven't had to close any libraries. Instead we have managed to improve the service and open other leisure facilities.

"We have chosen to restructure the management of the service rather than closing libraries down, but unfortunately that means we have had to cut the number of posts in the service.

"I can say we will do everything within our power to keep libraries open and continue to provide an excellent service to the people of Sandwell." Sandwell Library and Information Service have been asked to deliver saving £343,000 for 2014/15.

The proposals will help save the council around £165,000 as they attempt to make savings of £120 million by 2016.

This is the latest round of job cuts in the service after officers where set the task in 2012 of reducing the number of posts by 50 per cent, from 18.86 to 9.86.

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The report adds that there are currently no plans for further restructure of frontline library staff – which have already undergone 3 large restructuring processes since 2011.

Councillor Steve Melia, chairman of the Sandwell Federation of Library Friends and User Groups, who support libraries in the borough, said: "We are really very fortunate to have good library services in Sandwell.

"The service is working really well but sometimes when there is not enough money then something has to happen, unfortunately that means that some posts have had to go. We will support the service in whatever way we can."

The council already shaved £300,000 off its library budget in 2013/14 and cut a further £880,000 in the two years before that.

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