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Council chiefs in pledge on libraries

Walsall | News | Published:

There are no plans to close any libraries in Walsall, council bosses declared today following concerns some sites could be lost in a programme of cost-cutting aiming to save millions of pounds.

There are no plans to close any libraries in Walsall, council bosses declared today following concerns some sites could be lost in a programme of cost-cutting aiming to save millions of pounds.

At one point it was believed six of the borough's 16 libraries could have been for the chop as the local authority battles to save £70 million.

That was then scaled down to none closing this financial year and now, following a huge review of the service, council chiefs have gone on the record to say there are no plans for any closures.

Fearful library users had carried out protests and signed petitions in preparation of moves towards the feared cuts. But Councillor Anthony Harris, cabinet member for leisure at Walsall Council, said today: "There are no plans for any library closures in the Walsall borough.

"We recognise the important role that libraries play and will continue to look for ways to improve the services we provide in response to changing needs."

Pleck Library was one of the sites believed to be in the firing line.

More than 100 people took to the streets to protest against the possibility of losing the facility.

Pleck councillor Dennis Anson said: "I am very happy about this news. The people of Pleck were outraged at the thought of losing their library so this announcement is most welcome.

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"Pleck Library is one of the most used facilities we have in our community.

"If anything, I want to see its opening hours extended so even more people can use it.

"I know that might be asking a bit much in the current climate, but if things pick up in the future, that's what I want to see."

Walsall's library service is still undergoing a shake-up in a bid to save £1.3m but closures have now been ruled out.

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Money-saving measures which have been discussed include an increase in the number of self-service machines and some sites possibly being taken over by community groups.

A total of 4,200 people from throughout the Walsall borough had their say on the future of the libraries in a large-scale consultation.

A review of opening hours, the introduction of cafes and an adequate number of computers were some of the things people said they would like to see as a result of the consultation. A full report of the findings is available to view, with an option to download at www.walsall.gov.uk/lib rary_con sultation_2011

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