Express & Star

Walsall Council cuts: Last-ditch fight to save Pheasey and Rushall libraries

Campaigners are making a last ditch bid to save two under threat libraries – with an MP also pleading with council chiefs to re-think closures before it is too late.


Petitions to save Pheasey Library and Rushall Library, which have attracted more than 1,000 signatures, will go before a council scrutiny panel tonight.

The petitioners will also get the chance to argue case before the cost-cutting budget is finalised by the full council on Thursday.

Walsall South MP Valerie Vaz said she is 'absolutely devastated' at the potential loss of Pheasey Library and backs campaigners who will speak out against the closure at tonight's meeting.

She said: "I am absolutely devastated that it looks like the library is going to close despite the hard work of campaigners and I fully calls for the council to reconsider."

Despite Walsall Council's Labour and Liberal Democrat administration claiming it wouldn't close libraries prior to coming into power, a set of initial draft proposals released in October proposed 15 of 16 libraries across the borough would close.

This was altered in late January, when a draft budget compiled after a public consultation revealed that six of the 15 at risk libraries are now to remain open.

However, Pheasey and Rushall are still set to lose their libraries.

Councillor Chris Towe, who handed in the 660 signature strong petition to keep Pheasey Library open, said: "For the last two years, we have seen visitor numbers increase, people are signing up every day, the library is used by people old and young for so many different reasons.

"They have presented the situation as though they have no options but that is not the case, this can be done."

A similar petition relating to Bloxwich Library is also on the corporate services scrutiny committee meeting agenda, with a 544 strong petition handed over to the council, however that library has already been saved under the new proposals.

Councillor Lorna Rattigan, who represents Rushall and submitted the 530 strong petition to save its library, said: "Closure would mean the loss of an important service. The building and the surrounding area would be adversely affected.

"We are sure the library could remain open and other community facilities and services could use the building."

Walsall Council said it would not be commenting ahead of the petitions being discussed at the corporate services scrutiny committee meeting. Other libraries earmarked to close include: Beechdale, Blakenall, New Invention, South Walsall; Pelsall, Walsall Wood and Pleck.

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