100 gather to oppose Pleck library closure

More than 100 people staged a public protest against a proposed closure of a Black Country library.

100 gather to oppose Pleck library closure

The protest saw campaigners from the Friend's of Pleck Library group, headed by Shabir Hussain and Naheed Gultasib, stage loud chants and display brightly coloured banners in a bid to keep the popular Darlaston Road library open.

It is the second time that the library has been earmarked for closure, along with others in the borough, as part of the council's bid to save £25 million.

Ms Gultasib, who is also a lecturer at Sandwell College, described the library as the 'jewel in Pleck's crown'.

She said: "I have lived in Pleck all my life and this library has been a vital part of making me into the person I am today.

"The council has made their plans sound very final, but we are here to say that we do have a voice and look just how much this library means to young and old and people from all different cultural backgrounds.

"People come here for clubs, after school to finish off projects and to use the computers for job searches.

"Without this place a lot of people will be left with no where to further their future prospects."

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition opposing the closure in recent weeks.

Community campaigner, Shabir Hussain, claimed that Pleck Library is the cheapest to run in the borough, at £38,179 – making up less than two per cent of the budget for libraries.

He said: "This is a community hub and lifeline for many.

"It brings people together in unity to focus on education and future prospects."

Bhavna Patel, Naheed Gultasib, Walsall MP Valerie Vas and Shabir Hussain with campaigners

Walsall South MP Valerie Vaz was also present to show her support and encourage the crowd to shout 'save our library'.

She added: "It would be devastating for this community if the library was to close.

"It is vital for education and local residents.

"A couple of years ago we succeeded in trying to stop the closure and now we are here again - the community are extremely concerned about this."

The library is currently used by a chess club, an over-50s club, a knitting club and a beginners' IT club amongst others.

In response to the petition last week, Councillor Anthony Harris, community, leisure and culture boss, said nothing had been decided at present and that their aim was 'to keep as many of the library facilities open' as they could.

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