Most library users in favour of Hove Library moving to museum, consultation finds

Posted On 03 Mar 2016 at 2:09 pm

Controversial plans to relocate Hove Library down the road to the museum became more likely today with the release of a survey which showed 57% of city library users in favour of the move.

Hove Library. Image from Google Streetview
More than 1,000 people responded to the consultation, which asked questions about a range of proposals to the library service across Brighton and Hove, which needs to make cuts of £350,000.

But campaigners have rubbished the results, saying that the way the survey was worded was like a “ransom note”, threatening closure of suburban libraries unless Hove Library is moved and its Carnegie built home sold off.

Council leader Warren Morgan said: “I completely understand local attachment to the current Hove Library. But keeping it in that building will leave us no choice but to consider shutting other libraries to pay for it.

“So we must put services before buildings and provide the best citywide facilities with the money we have. This is a great opportunity to work with residents and library users to provide a new, improved service that is much-loved and integral to the life of Hove.”

But library campaigner Christopher Hawtree said: “The whole way in which the consultation was constructed was very mch a gun to the head, a ransom note.

“It was the council saying if you don’t move Hove Library, we will shut down all the other libraries.

“The consultation documents didn’t make it clear that it will be a much smaller library with fewer books, , which means less us and it goes into decline.

“We will keep on going, many campaigns have ups and downs. A petition of 4,000 names will be presented [to the council’s economic development committee] on Thursday.

“As Chief Justice Hewart said of Graham Greene’s libel of Shirley Temple, it’s quite simply a gross outrage.”

The consultation began in November, when the Hove Library move was one of the first details to emerge of swingeing cuts the council has made to cope with a £100m cut to its Government funding over the next four years.

The 1908 building costs £500,000 a year to run and needs £750,000 of repairs in the next five years. The plan proposes merging it with Hove Museum 300 metres west along New Church Road.

The council says a new cultural centre for Hove would be created by building an extension doubling space on the ground floor.

Consultation forms returned from 1124 people revealed 57 per cent of respondents tend to agree or strongly agree the Hove moves; 38 per cent tend to disagree or strongly disagree and the rest were undecided.

Other changes aimed at protecting the library service, while coping with 20 per cent savings on its £5.1m budget by 2020, are:

  • Increasing Libraries Extra provision, where some libraries are unstaffed for periods, as already operates successfully at Woodingdean and Portslade. This would increase available hours from 362 to 701 a week, at reduced cost.
  • Library provision in Hollingbury will be through the Hollingbury and Patcham Children’s Centre. There would also be a community library collection in the Old Boat community centre serving all ages.
  • Extending the Home Delivery Service for less-mobile people.
  • Developing a funding strategy to increase income.

The existing Hove Library building would need to be sold if the museum extension is to be built. A decision on any sale would go to a future meeting of the policy and resources committee.

Consultation also involved interviews and exit surveys with thousands of adults and children, lapsed borrowers and focus groups. The recent open consultation running since November, including the Hove proposal, drew 1124 responses – significantly larger than recent consultations on children’s centres or the council budget.


  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    The thing about books is that you never know where books lead… I made an anthology from the magazine Night and Day. This was there first time that Graham Greene’s review of the Shirley Temple film had been reprinted – he was nervous). A little while afterwards, she was in touch with both us, and – lo and behold – in her excellent memoir Child Star she agreed with his review. They exchanged letters, and when she was Ambassador in Prague she said that she would have a party for him there – alas, he became ill and could not get there again.

    So time has shown that the notoriously severe Lord Hewart was completely wrong. But the fact remains that to close Hove Library would be a gross outrage.

    All this means that 45 staff are taking voluntary redundancy – going before being push. This is a sad reflection upon England now: people being undervalued in this way. Librarians make such a difference to lives, and indeed it is reported today that public libraries, in various ways, save the NHS £27.5 million a year.

    The more books in a Library, the more it is used. Word spreads about good stock.

  2. floreathova2 Reply

    Dispiriting. Of course the real news here is that a landmark building in central Hove will be sold off cheaply by the council to some cowboy developer. I have no idea why the Labour lot (especially) seem to be championing this poorly thought-out scheme and are patting themselves on the back when they should be hanging their heads in shame. I’ve heard via the grapevine that the bill of necessary repairs for the Carnegie Library has been deliberately over-estimated along with stupid scare-mongering about ‘asbestos in the building’. I’m also fed up with hearing all the relentless propaganda being spread about this new library/museum compromise becoming a ‘cultural hub’ for Hove–when there isn’t even enough room for the books to start with and stock will have to be cut.

  3. caro Reply

    Why are people so against change? Hove Library would benefit greatly from moving and updating not only the library, but also the museum. A new cultural centre for the area would be a good thing, incorporating both museum and library.

  4. sharon Reply

    I must be one of many who read the survey and just couldn’t see a way of answering the questions without seeming to agree with the closure. So I preferred not to complete it rather than give the answers I was being forced into giving. It was like something from 1984. They seemed to give you a choice but in reality there was none.

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