Council chiefs have vowed to keep libraries open despite impending budget cuts.

Bosses at Brighton and Hove City Council made the pledge despite having to make more than £125 million of savings over the next five years.

It comes as new figures showed on average 800 people an hour use the city’s 14 libraries.

This is despite two of the venues being in temporary facilities due to refurbishment.


Green councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the council’s economic development committee, said: “As far as this administration is concerned libraries are vital community hubs and continue to be so.

“While councils of every hue across the country have been closing their libraries wholesale, I am proud that in Brighton and Hove we have kept all ours open and continue planning ahead on that same basis.

“In fact we are building a brand new library almost double the size of the previous ‘50 year-old temporary’ one in Woodingdean and will be seeing a similarly enlarged library coming on stream at Portslade Aldridge Community Academy.

“Once Circus Street is finished, the library being built by the University of Brighton will also be available for members of the public.”

It comes after questioning from Conservative councillors over which libraries were most used in the city.

Conservative councillor Vanessa Brown said: “I would hope the Greens don’t try and use these figures to justify closing libraries with lower footfall.

“Instead they should be looking at innovative ways of increasing the use of these libraries as community centres and perhaps looking at getting volunteers to staff them.

“They should also be looking to increase opening hours at the more popular community libraries, again using volunteers where appropriate.”

In response, Coun Bowden said the council’s 14 libraries attracted 1.8 million visits every year, which ranked it the second most visited library service when compared to similar authorities across the country. Jubilee Librarycontinues to be the most visited library in the south east and is the sixth most visited in the country, he added.

Visitor numbers to our libraries

The number of visits per hour open over the last six months, covering the April to September 2013:

Jubilee 367
Hove 122
Patcham 56
Rottingdean 38
Saltdean 37
Hangleton 36
Portslade 29
Whitehawk 21
Westdene 19
Hollingbury 18
Coldean 16
Moulsecoomb 15
Mile Oak 14
Woodingdean 12