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downsmail.co.uk


Library hours could be cut to savemoney


LIBRARY books look set to re- main locked up for longer. An overall reduction in public


opening times across the library estate is being proposed in a cash- saving reviewof services by Kent County Council (KCC). Specialist services such as the


mobile library, home library de- livery, audio books by post, and residential home services could also be brought under one brand of Library Direct if the three-year strategy is agreed by councillors. MikeHill, KCC’s cabinetmem-


ber for community services, as- sured users all libraries will continue to be maintained. How- ever, many would have their opening hours cut, if the recom- mendations are agreed. He added: “We know our li-


brary service is highly-valued by the public, but it is not immune fromthe financial pressures on all county council services. “We have been working on a


The UK’s proof fence!


strategy to protect the future of all our libraries and our archive and registration offers and, in fact, en- hance some of these services. But, being openwhen libraries are not well used is not a good use of tax- payers’money.” But Labour borough councillor


Paul Harper says shorter hours are one step away from closures. A former libraries committee chairman for Merton Council in south London, he maintains a lack of commitment and invest- ment by the county council has run the systemdown.He said: “In Merton, with a population of


Kent History and Library Centre in James Whatman Way, Maidstone


200,000 we had seven libraries, whereas our county townhas three anditsmainlibrary is out of town.” He believes instead of looking at


closing libraries longer, KCC should be looking at how to pro- vide wider access to services and investing inmore stock. He added: “Those who need to


claim for such things as universal credithave toapplyonline.For this reason, also, librariesprovide anes- sential public service.” Copies of the draft strategy and


the consultation questionnaire are available at www.kent.gov.uk/ lrastrategy or fromyour library.


News Snowman live


THE Snowman film will be screenedwith live accompaniment atMaidstone Leisure Centre. The MWS brass orchestra will


lead themagical adventure,with a programme also featuring music from The Polar Express, The Nut- cracker Suite, Lauridsen’s OMag- num Mysterium, and Leroy Anderson’sAChristmas Festival. The event starts at 3.30pm on


Sunday, December 16. Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for those up to 11 and free to those up to four.


Theft charge


OFFICERS investigating a kebab shopburglaryhave chargedaman. On Sunday, November 18, cash


and knives were taken from a kebab shop in Gabriel’s Hill. Bret Morris (44), of Fairmeadow,Maid- stone, has been charged with bur- glary and handling stolen goods. Hewas remanded in custody.


Quiz night


MAIDSTONE Lions’ Club’s quiz will be held atArchbishopCourte- nay Primary School, Tovil, at 7.30pmon Saturday, February 9 . To book, call 01622 739469.


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