SAVINGS proposals worth nearly £2.5 million have been considered by Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, Councillor Seán Woodward.

These form part of a raft of options across the county council to address its anticipated £80 million budget shortfall, by April 2021.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Cllr Woodward said: “We have faced very challenging savings targets over the last decade and have worked hard to improve the way we’re delivering services in our communities.

“However, to bridge the current funding gap, we’re having to find further efficiencies across all of the County Council’s services.

“In doing so, our aim is to minimise the impact of proposed changes on residents, as we know how important our services are to so many people.

“The proposals for Recreation and Heritage services reflect a range of options for contributing to these savings by increasing income and reducing costs.

“A significant part of the savings proposals relates to library services, amounting to £1.7m. This represents 16 per cent of the overall budget for the service, but still means that a budget of around £10 million would remain for library services.

“I want to be clear that we’re absolutely committed to ensuring that Hampshire residents have access to good library services – which we know are valued.

“This will require different ways of providing the libraries services which may mean reductions in opening hours, closures or relocations alongside a range of efficiency measures and a drive to maximise income through events and room hire.

“At this stage, the proposals do not include detailed plans for any specific library, these will come later as part of a public consultation and engagement with our local communities.”

Cllr Woodward’s recommendations will go to the Cabinet in October, before a final decision in November by the full County Council.

Further to ratification by Cabinet and Full Council, some proposals will then be subject to further, more detailed consultation.