Bristol’s Central Library could move under council-led review

Bristol City Council needs to make at least £45.7m in savings over the next five years

Bristol’s Central Library could be moved from its 116-year home under new proposals being considered to balance the city council’s financial books - with at least £45.7m of savings required over the next five years.

In a press release issued on Friday morning, Mayor Marvin Rees said the council needed to fill a ‘substantial shortfall’ caused, he said, in part by underfunding from central Government. He added that savings proposals unveiled as part of a consultation were ‘the harsh reality of that challenge’.

The consultation asks the public for its input on a huge range of proposed savings, from stopping and changing activities at city parks to reducing spend on adult social care to cuts to the city transport budget.

They also include savings to the council’s library service with a review planned which ‘will include the potential move of Central Library to another central location’. The library, positioned on the south side of College Green, has been open since 1906.

It is a Historic England Grade-I listed building. As well as the main library area and cafe, the building features a Neoclassical entrance hall used for events along with a large reading room. Seven years ago, Cathedral Primary School moved on to the building’s ground floors.

The idea of relocating the library has already got people talking on Twitter. Former Bristol West MP Stephen Williams said: “Bristol Central Library is already located in the best possible place in the city centre. Moving it would be ludicrous.”

Gus Hoyt tweeted: “Bristol Central Library needs more investment -it doesn’t need moving. It’s such an incredible and inspiring heart to our city.”

Other savings proposed as part of the consultation include crisis prevention support and council tax discounts. People are also being asked about the rate of council tax. The proposals amount to £46m in savings over the next five years - but the city council has also warned that this could rise to £87.6m, meaning more diffficult decisions maybe required in February next year.

Bristol’s Central Library could be relocated under a review planned by Bristol City Council
Bristol’s Central Library could be relocated under a review planned by Bristol City Council
Bristol’s Central Library could be relocated under a review planned by Bristol City Council

Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor of Bristol and Cabinet Member for Finance, Governance and Performance, said: “This consultation sets out the full scale of the challenge we face. It makes for uncomfortable reading in places but must be read by also recognising that our proposals are to ensure the budget is balanced and the finances exist to fund the vital work we’re doing.”

The consultation ends on December 23, and will be used to draw up the budget for 2023/24. You can take part by clicking here.