Changes to library opening hours

Collier Row and South Hornchurch will close at 3pm on 25 May 2024. Check the normal opening times for each of our libraries

Havering launches new library strategy

Published: Friday, 10 May 2024

Havering residents are being asked to have their say on the borough’s new library strategy which includes plans to close four libraries.

The library strategy consultation, which will run for 12 weeks until 2 August 2024, comes at a difficult time for the borough.

The Council continues to face financial challenges while delivering our legal duty to provide services for the most vulnerable along with the services residents say they value most. 

It follows last year’s wider budget consultation where we asked residents for their thoughts on reviewing the library service. 

Libraries are one of the key services that we are legally required to deliver.

But due to the financial difficulties that the Council faces because of the cut in support from central government, we are proposing the difficult decision to close up to four branch libraries, leaving six libraries in the borough.

Many of our library buildings are also in poor condition or are approaching the end of their natural life.

A reduced number of libraries will allow us to make some of these buildings and facilities better.

The libraries facing potential closure are:

  • Collier Row Library
  • Elm Park Library
  • Gidea Park Library
  • Harold Wood Library
  • South Hornchurch Library

By retaining six libraries (which together account for over 80 per cent of visits each year), the borough will save more than £300,000 per year, with these essential savings going towards the Council’s responsibilities to setting a balanced budget which it must do by law.

A reduced number of libraries will also mean we are better able to maintain and develop the remaining libraries as they reflect the needs of the borough as it changes.

This includes developing options for a new children’s library, with specialist support for children with special educational needs.

The consultation will also seek residents’ views on the levels of future book stock across all libraries.

Councillor Paul Middleton, Cabinet Member for Digital, Transformation and Customer Services, said:

“We need residents’ help with deciding the future of your library service so libraries can remain at the heart of our communities and serving our borough. 

“Our libraries and staff provide a fantastic service to residents, they are places where all ages and communities can come together for, study, activities, support and wellbeing. 

“Libraries also support our physical and mental health, helping residents in becoming less lonely and connecting others digitally via free internet access.

“However, due to an outdated funding formula from central government and a budget gap of £28 million we are being forced to make further savings.

"The proposals to reduce the number of libraries is one of many painful decisions we will need to make until we get a better deal from government which accurately reflects the borough’s changing population and need.  

"This strategy looks at our current libraries today; where they are, how they are used and how much it costs to keep the service and buildings running. 

“We believe a smaller number of libraries means we can also provide better buildings and facilities to residents with the limited money we have.

“I urge all residents to take part in our consultation and to help us shape the future of our libraries.” 

Take part in the library consultation