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Third of Walsall's libraries to be axed

Walsall | News | Published:

Six libraries in Walsall will shut with the loss of 21 jobs under council cost-cutting measures, it can be revealed today.

Six libraries in Walsall will shut with the loss of 21 jobs under council cost-cutting measures, it can be revealed today.

Council chiefs are remaining tight-lipped over which of the borough's 16 libraries will be axed until a review has been carried out. It is believed remodelling the library service will save more than £1.3 million from 2012 to 2014.

This is part of the authority's battle to save £65m over the next three years.

News that six libraries are to close or to no longer be run directly by the council emerged during a meeting of Walsall Council in response to a question tabled by Councillor Pete Smith, Democratic Labour councillor for Blakenall.

But when leisure chief Councillor Anthony Harris was asked which ones would face the chop, he said: "I'm not going to tell you that today.

"I am not going to answer that question because we don't know categorically which ones they are."

Speaking to the Express & Star today, Councillor Harris said the closure of libraries would not mean the loss of provisions.

"I want to deliver a better library service and I believe that's achievable," he said.

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"But we've got buildings that aren't open enough and aren't in the best use."

He added: "The main question for us is how do we maintain the library provision in the area."

It has previously been suggested that libraries could reopen in community centres, leisure centres or even churches, while those that survive the chop could see their hours increased.

Since April 2009, all Walsall libraries have been closed on Mondays in a bid to save costs.

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Other money saving measures include the closure of Darlaston market, the loss of around 450 jobs at Walsall Council and the ending of a council-run meals-on-wheels service.

Also the New Art Gallery Walsall has been closed on Sundays and bank holidays.

Creches at Oak Park and Bloxwich leisure centres have also been closed.

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