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Hagley Library under threat of closure
9:00am Tuesday 14th January 2014 in News
HAGLEY Library is at risk of closure as Worcestershire County Council reviews its library services in a bid to save £2.4m by April.
The Worcester Road library could be replaced by a mobile library service unless support can be found to bridge the services budget deficit.
Other options include transferring the running of the library to Hagley Parish Council.
Under this option, the parish council would take over the running costs but the staff responsibilities and costs would be retained by the county council.
Neil Lambert, of Wind’s Point, Hagley, uses the library on a daily basis and is against any change that would see the current service reduced.
He said: “The library is greatly used. I’m there every day to read the papers. It is very small but cosy and the staff are excellent.
“The books are also very up-to-date; you can always get what you want there.
“This is why we don’t want the book fund reduced. We don’t want any sort of reduction - we need a larger library rather than a smaller one.”
He said library users were disappointed that they had been kept in the dark: “There are 44,000 users a year and not one of these people have been asked what they want. A number of people are upset that they haven’t been consulted.”
Mr Lambert said he thought the possibility of transferring the running of the library to the parish council should be ruled out: “Hagley Parish Council already has far too much to do. It’s impossible for them to do it. How can they be expected to run a library when they have no expertise? It should not be transferred to them full stop."
Chairman of Hagley Parish Council, cllr Steve Colella, said: "The parish council will be looking at ways in which it can step in to support the continuation of the service in the existing building.
“As regards running a library it is something that Hagley Parish Council does not have the resources or expertise to do, despite our best intentions. Therefore management and running the library must stay with the county council. But there may be something we can do from the parish point of view – if that’s what the residents and users want.
“However, any support the parish council gives must not leave it with future insurmountable debts and without problems mealy landing in the lap of the parish council whilst the county council walk away.
Cllr Colella said the parish council could not make any firm commitments until the final proposal was announced but added: “If I know the spirit and commitment of the members of Hagley Parish Council then they will want to do everything in their power to maintain the current library service.
“ I have asked the clerk to arrange a public meeting to hear the views of the users and expect the county council representatives to be there too. As soon as a date is arranged it will be publicised.”
Kathy Kirk, the county council’s strategic libraries and learning manager, said: "We are currently working closely with Parish, Town, District Councils, and Community Groups across Worcestershire to try to ensure library services remain at reduced costs and do all we can to avoid library closures. “Any key changes to libraries will be subject to community consultation.”
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