NEWPORT’S Central Library and Museum and Art Gallery building could be saved but services reduced as revised plans are drafted following consultation with the public.

Cabinet members at Newport City Council will be asked to agree the 2015/16 budget proposals, which includes maintaining the library and museum building in John Frost square, at a meeting next week.

The proposal to close the building was revealed by the Argus in November last year - but following consultation, the council is now looking at keeping the building and bringing the museum and library service closer together with a combined front of house team.

Up to £20,000 could be spent on adapting the building, which would continue to house the art gallery and reference library.

If the building is saved, the museum service would see a reduction in opening hours, activities, events, exhibitions and research and enquiry services and the loss of eight full-time equivalent jobs in a bid to save £112,000 in 2015/16 and £57,000 in 2016/17.

The council would need to spend £184,000 to implement the plans including redundancy costs and £15-£20,000 for building adaptation work.

The revised library service proposal could see Central library retained with a reduced level of service and three library hubs at Ringland, Rogerstone and Bettws open 40 hours per week and three service points at Malpas, Caerleon and Duffryn each staffed by the library service for 20 hours per week.

The impact on jobs would be the loss of nine full time equivalent roles.

The proposals would save £233,000 in 2015/16 and £104,000 in 2016/17 but £171,000 would need to be spent on redundancy costs, costs of changing furniture and counters at Central Library and a contribution to the costs of reconfiguring Ringland Library.

Despite councillors voting on the budget at the end of February, further consultation is expected to take place on both the library and museum service proposals with formal decisions expected to made in April.

A council spokeswoman said: “The council has to find savings of £10 million for the next financial year and has been consulting on more than 100 budget savings proposals on how it can achieve these savings.

“Since cabinet agreed the detailed budget proposals for consultation a small number of emerging issues and opportunities have arisen for 2015/16 including an opportunity to look again at the proposals from the council’s scrutiny committee for central library and museum.

“Cabinet will consider keeping the central library, museum and art gallery building open but reducing the offer.

“Cabinet will also decide on the location of the four library hubs. If these new proposals are agreed by cabinet and full council there will be further consultation with members of the public on this and other ways of modernising the library service.”

Another change made to the budget plans following the December consultation is a reduction in the marketing budget of £10,000 for Newport Food Festival so that the money can be re-invested in the council sponsorship, allowing the event to go ahead.

Rogerstone councillor Chris Evans said: “I think this is great news. Genuinely I would like to thank the leadership for listening not for myself but for the traders and for the views I represented.

“The food festival is immeasurably important. It does need to get to a point where it can sustain itself financially but it’s not there yet.”

Cabinet will also vote on a proposed council tax rise of five per cent, but the council says Newport will still have the second lowest council tax in Wales.

The spokeswoman added: “An average Newport household pays £1,101 per year in council tax, compared with places like Neath Port Talbot and Blaenau Gwent who pay £1,542 (40 per cent more) and £1,413 (28 per cent more) in council tax.

“Council tax accounts for just 19 per cent of the council’s annual budget with the remainder coming from other fees, charges and grants.

“Newport City Council has had to make some very difficult decisions about where to find savings. The council has lost 10 per cent of its staff since 2010 and will reduce the number of management layers across the organisation."

Cabinet will agree the final budget in its meeting on February 9 which will then be submitted to full council on February 24.

MORE than 2,500 responses were received by Newport City Council in their budget survey with the public disagreeing with seven out of the 72 new budget proposals.

As well as questionnaires, the council received a number of letters and emails, many of which related to the museum and library proposals.

The cases where more people disagreed with the proposal include the change to the museum and art gallery service where 64 per cent of 181 respondents disagreed with council plans and 79 per cent of 692 respondents disagreeing with the review of public libraries proposal.

The council received a “significant” number of responses regarding the Arthur Machen Collection from places such as Yorkshire, London, Glasgow, Birmingham, France, Germany, Denmark, the USA and Australia.

On the museum, comments were received from organisations such as the Redwick History Group, The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of and The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA).

A 2.300 name Friends of Newport Museum and Art Gallery petition opposing the building's potential closure was also handed in.

Fifty-nine per cent of respondents disagreed with proposals to charge to dispose DIY waste with an “overwhelming number of comments received suggest that charging to dispose of waste will result in more fly tipping”.

In the majority of cases, members of the public agreed with the council’s proposals including 82 per cent of respondents agreeing the council should reduce its marketing budget and 96 per cent agreeing in a reduction in senior salary posts and expenses.

Sixty-five per cent of respondents were in favour of ceasing to raise and lower the city centre bollards and 64 per cent in favour of scrapping member's neighbourhood allowances.