I'm proud to say that in Reading we are moving in the opposite direction from many other councils - with the welcome news announced earlier this week that the Council is extending opening hours across the local library network.
- Opening hours at Caversham library have risen from 36.5 a week to 50.5
- Palmer Park it has gone from 29 to 41.5 hours,
- Tilehurst is up from 36.5 to 42.5 hours,
- Battle has risen 29 to 39.5 hours,
- Whitley from 29 to 34.5,
- Southcote from 29 to 33.5
- Central from 50 to 52.5 hours
As Labour Councillor Mike Orton noted at Full Council this week politics is about taking tough choices.
As I said in my recent speech on social care, if we do not make better use of available resources rising demand will have a big impact on the amount we have to spend on discretionary services such as leisure and culture. The Council's auditors KPMG echoed this in their annual audit letter which was presented to Cabinet a couple of weeks ago:
"facing up to these challenges will require revolutionary transformation of public sector services, rather than tinkering. Strong leadership from Members and senior management will be essential as it may be the case that further savings over and above those in the performance improvement plan are required."I'm pleased the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition Administration of Reading Borough Council has made the decision to expand rather than reduce library provision for residents. We have only been able to do this because we are facing up to the financial challenges the Council faces whilst also prioritising the areas that matter to residents.