Library closure may be needed in Hackney, council report warns

Stoke Newington Library after masonry fell from the building last year. Photograph: Julia Gregory

A permanent library closure could be needed in Hackney within the next two years, the council has revealed.

The Town Hall dropped the bombshell as it set out proposed changes to the library service that are designed to save money.

The service could undergo another consultation and restructure to facilitate a potential closure, according to a document provided to the council’s cabinet last month.

The savings proposal states that “if a decision is not taken to permanently close a building in 2026/27, the service would require growth of £248k to restore the current budgets at existing service levels”.

The news comes a few weeks before the temporary closure of Stoke Newington Library.

From April 2024, the Grade II-listed building will be out of action for two years for major £4.5m repair works.

The temporary shuttering could bring £248,000 into the council’s coffers in savings on staffing, security and building upkeep, the document detailed.

It goes on: “This decision assumes an eventual restructure/closure of properties in the library service.”

“The savings related to this temporary closure will give time for consultation on permanent changes to the library service in order to deliver the service at a lower cost,” it adds.

“The consultation would include proposals to shorten opening hours and permanent closure of a library.”

Although Stoke Newington Library’s temporary closure is expected to impact non-lending activities such as study space, children’s activities, PC and internet access, it is “necessary to address the defects in the building”, the council said.

In January last year, masonry fell down from the building, which dates back to 1892.

Alongside savings on the library service, the council has announced plans to restructure four children’s centres, including Fernbank and Sebright Children’s Centres.