Protest over planned changes to Staffordshire library services

Campaigners held up banners in a protest to vent their feelings against proposed changes to library services in Staffordshire.

Protest over planned changes to Staffordshire library services

Councillors want more than half of libraries in the county to be run by volunteers in a bid to help save £1.3m over the next three years. Jobs are also at risk as the proposals would see community organisations take on 24 of the county's 43 libraries.

A total of 8,255 residents have now signed petitions against the idea.

Addressing a meeting of the full council yesterday Claire Geoghegan, of the Friends of Penkridge Library, said that it was unfair to expect volunteers to replace librarians.

Mrs Geoghegan said: "All the organisations have identified that if you have no way of interacting with staff, no matter how much goodwill they have volunteers cannot provide the same service. There are also things to consider such as date protection issues."

Cabinet member for children and community safety Councillor Mike Lawrence insists that there are no plans to close buildings, but that the service needs to change with the times.

He told the meeting: "It is also about meeting a savings target. All local authorities across England and Wales are required to make savings in the budget. We are no different."

Members agreed to a motion calling on the council to take on board the views of the petitioners alongside the formal consultation ion the 'redefining and repositioning of library services'.

Under the proposals sites including Brereton, Heath Hayes, Hednesford, Norton Canes, Brewood, Cheslyn Hay, Great Wyrley, Kinver, Penkridge, Baswich, Gnosall, Holmcroft and Rising Brook – would be taken over by the community.

The core libraries, such as Cannock, Rugeley, Codsall, Perton, Wombourne, Eccleshall, Stafford and Stone, will continue to provide a range of county council services.

There will be four centres of excellence, or extras, in Lichfield, Tamworth, Burton and Newcastle, which will continue providing the same levels of current services. Visits to county libraries have dropped by 12 per cent in three years.

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