MORE than 20,000 people who live, work or study in Hampshire have given their views on proposed changes to library services, as part of a 10-week public consultation. The consultation closed yesterday.

The county council proposed closing a number of libraries: Fair Oak, near Eastleigh, Blackfield, Chineham, Elson, Emsworth, Horndean, Lee-on-the-Solent,

Lyndhurst, Odiham and South Ham.

Hampshire County Council’s executive member for recreation and heritage, Cllr Seán Woodward, said: “Thank you to everyone who has so far taken the time to take part in the consultation. There’s still time to have your say, so if you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to complete the consultation on our website.

“This has been a robust process, encouraging views from the widest possible range of people – as seen from the strong public response to the consultation.”

The way people use library services is changing, and some changes to the service have been proposed for public consultation, to make sure libraries evolve to meet these needs. This includes options to reduce opening hours of all council-run libraries; or closing up to 10 libraries and reducing opening hours of all remaining libraries.

The County Council faces an anticipated budget shortfall of £80 million by April 2021 and is having to look across all of the County Council’s services to find savings, as demands for services rise, particularly in social care. The Library Service is required to identify £1.76 million towards the County Council’s overall savings target.

The proposals set out in this consultation impact all Hampshire libraries and cover issues including:

• the emerging vision for Hampshire’s Libraries to 2025;

• the level of need for library services in specific local communities;

• proposed changes to the Library Service and the potential impacts;

• and any alternatives that respondents may wish to propose.

Councillor Woodward added: “We remain absolutely committed to providing a high-quality library service, fit for the future, that responds to a new generation of library customers. The right thing to do is focus the resources we have on where they will be of most benefit.”

The consultation is open until Wednesday 18 March. Feedback received will inform decisions to be made by the Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage in summer 2020.

To take part in the consultation please visit or fill in a printed copy from any Hampshire County Council library. Alternative formats are available on request.