Pelsall Library to close next month amid cost cutting plans

A library opened just five years ago as part of a £5 million pound community centre is to close.

Pelsall Village Centre, which houses the facility, was unveiled to much fanfare in 2012 by Prince Edward – but now the library will shut on June 30 as the council looks to save £86m by 2020.

The library, which campaigners say is the second most visited in Walsall, was earmarked for the axe last year.

Protesters hoped an agreement could be reached to save it after nearly 2,000 people signed a petition and council bosses agreed to look again at the proposal in June – but it has now been announced that it will definitely shut.

Pelsall councillor Garry Perry said the decision was ‘hard to stomach’.

He added: “Following various attempts to convince the council administration to keep Pelsall Library open, it has been rejected and will close on June 30.

“This is indeed a most regrettable act and one we find hard to stomach.

“However, I have, supported by my colleagues Councillors Marco Longhi and Carl Bennett, been looking at alternative ways of keeping a ‘loaning facility’ alive at Pelsall in addition to using the space creatively.

“All existing groups who operate from the library will continue to do so and will be accommodated. We are working with a community partner, Brownhills Community Association, on a collaborative model to make the most of the space and encourage and increase the use thereof.

“This will include an attempt to keep an IT provision at the centre, with access for employment and learning key.

“We are looking to establish a book exchange, successful in other areas, from July 1. I am extremely disappointed. We did feel we had a wealth of evidence to show there was a very, very strong case to keep it open but that is politics for you.”

Fellow Pelsall councillor Marco Longhi added: "Our approach has always been one of trying to fight the closure but also to have a plan in the offing so if we were not successful we would be able to move onto a plan B, which we now have in place with the book exchange.

"I am extremely disappointed. We did feel we had a wealth of evidence to show there was a very very strong case to keep it open but that is politics for you.

"One could argue that we could carry on fighting the decision but we have been around long enough to know we would be wasting our time. Our resources are better spent to making sure a service for the people of Pelsall is in place, even if it is a different one."

Beechdale, Blakenall, New Invention, Pleck, Pheasey, Rushall, South Walsall and Walsall Wood libraries will also close.

Councillor Mike Bird, leader of the Conservative opposition in Walsall, said: “As well as closing Pelsall they are closing Rushall further down the road, they are taking away the facility for people who use it as a social gathering.

“We are just moving from a saving in leisure services to a spending cost in social care. It is economics of the madhouse.”

Other services inside the High Street centre, including doctors surgeries, will be unaffected by the library closure.

Walsall Council said: “At its meeting on February 8 2017, Cabinet made the following decision: ‘Cabinet authorises the Executive Director, in consultation with the portfolio holder for community, leisure and culture, to enter into discussions with the community in the areas where there will no longer be a statutory library service on site, for the community to take on these sites as local book exchanges or venues for community centres, run by volunteers.’ Officers of the Council are working to ensure this decision is carried out although this process has not yet concluded.”

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