Byron council urged to cut library hours and slash spending
A RECOMMENDATION by Byron Shire Council to cut costs by closing the Brunswick Heads Library on a Saturday has led to protests from residents in the north of the shire.
The proposal, put forward by the council's Sustainable Communities Department manager, Greg Ironfield is to close the Brunswick Heads library on a Saturday; the Byron Bay Library on a Thursday evening and to reduce spending on new library resources for Byron Bay by $9000.
In total the cost-cutting is expected to save $39,181 and will allow the council to meet its obligations to the Richmond Tweed Regional Library for 2013/14, Mr Ironfield's report stated.
Councillors will vote on the matter at today's ordinary meeting with Mayor Simon Richardson flagging his opposition by describing the cost-cutting measures as "punitive".
"There's not been a great deal of consultation on this and I would rather we save money another way," Cr Richardson told The Northern Star this week.
Ocean Shores residents Penelope Fox and Betty Beresford are among those who have written to councillors urging them to oppose the library closure.
"Brunswick Heads Library services Ocean Shores, Billinudgel, South Golden Beach and all the communities in its vicinity," Mrs Fox said.
"Everyone I have spoken to is incensed by this idea," she said.
"While I am retired and can access the library at any time, many workers and school children can only use it on Saturday morning. This is denying a vital service to so many of our residents."
Betty Beresford, a former teacher of 37 years standing, said the library was an ideal set up being opposite the primary school and helped develop literacy skills for local children.
"Before they go onto kindles and other technology children need to read and the library allows them to touch and see books," Mrs Beresford said.
"Why on earth would you limit access to the library on the day families can access it? Surely a less-damaging method can be found to save money? To me, this indicates that the council is not interested in this community."