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Walsall Council cuts: Public have their say over future of libraries

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Residents have had their say over controversial council proposals to shut the doors at seven libraries in Walsall during a series of public consultation events.

Comments made by members of the public will now be analysed and fed back to councillors for a final decision to be made.

Branches at Beechdale, Blakenall, New Invention, Pleck, Rushall, South Walsall and Walsall Wood could close under the cost-cutting proposals by Walsall Council. The authority also wants to axe the mobile library service and 13 jobs as part of a bid to save £328,854 next year and £159,058 the year after.

New technology including self-service machines and a new smart card entry system is also planned at libraries which remain open.

Around £300,000 could be invested into some of the remaining nine libraries to bring in a new management system, allowing visitors to use them when they are unstaffed.

Customers would be given a special card and PIN to access the libraries when they are unmanned, with CCTV keeping watch and a book detection system used to keep track of items leaving the building.

The home library service which delivers books to residents who are housebound would continue.

The council organised a series of five events aimed at giving residents the chance to discuss the proposals. It is hoping volunteers will come forward to help run book exchanges where libraries close.

Walsall Council's deputy leader Adrian Andrew said: "Each community will be supported if volunteers come forward to run and retain their own libraries. This is already working well at Pheasey library and I believe this can happen across the borough."

Willenhall North Councillor Ian Shires called it a 'short-sighted' move.

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