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Walsall libraries closure: Nine sites to close despite last-ditch campaign

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Nine libraries will still be closed across the borough despite at last-ditch attempt by some councillors to save them.

Two Walsall Council scrutiny groups called on authority bosses to impose a 12-month stay of execution for axed-threatened libraries in Beechdale, Blakenall, New Invention, Pelsall, Pleck, Pheasey, Rushall, South Walsall and Walsall Wood.

A report said: "The cessation of a library service from 30th June 2017 will adversely affect the health and wellbeing of Walsall residents.

"There is a concern that consultation with minority groups, in particular the disabled, was not sufficient to ensure that their views were represented."

But on Friday the council's cabinet committee held a special meeting in the evening where they ruled to press on with the original proposals.

Leader Sean Coughlan said: "We have listened to people's concerns around the original proposals and that is why we have adopted the model agreed by Cabinet on February 8 and approved by council on February 23, and put £1.5 million back into the overall Libraries, Leather Museum and Local History Centre Service.

"This means that the service will be run at a cost of £2.5m, compared to the original budget proposal of £1m."

Addressing the recommendations by scrutiny groups Councillor Coughlan added: "There is no budget available to keep any of the nine libraries listed for closure open after June 30 and so these libraries will close on that date."

"However, we want to work with communities who are working hard on plans to keep their local facilities open.

"If their plans are not quite there on June 30, they will have a short period of time to bring their plans to fruition.

"The cost of a short period of non-occupancy to manage this scenario has been budgeted for."

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