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Walsall Council cuts: Thousands oppose library closure plan

More than 3,000 people have opposed controversial plans to close a Walsall borough library ahead of a public protest this weekend.


Walsall Council is proposing to shut libraries in Beechdale, Blakenall, New Invention, Pleck, Rushall, South Walsall and Walsall Wood in the next financial year.

It is part of the council's bid to save £25million. But a petition opposing the closure of Pleck library has gained momentum with more than 3,000 names, according to campaigner Shabir Hussain.

As part of an alternative option to closure, Mr Hussain claims 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.

Walsall South MP Valerie Vaz, will be holding a demonstration outside Pleck Library in Darlaston Road at 11am on Saturday urging the council not to close it.

She said: "Our libraries are treasured assets at the heart of our communities. They must not be lost. Numerous constituents have already contacted me to say how much they value our libraries.

"Libraries are not only used for books. At Pleck, the library is used by a chess club, an over 50s club, a knitting club and a beginners' IT club amongst others.

"There are also regular author visits. All this risks being lost if the library is closed.

"I am urging people to bring a book, a poster, a sign or a placard to the demonstration and write to Walsall MBC with their views.

"This will help show the strength of feeling on this issue."

Under the proposals the mobile library service would also cease to operate but the home library service would continue.

A book exchange would also be established in the new Oak Park Active Living Centre to cope with the loss of Walsall Wood library.

Mr Hussain said: "A working group have assessed and evaluated the information presented by Walsall Council as part of their consultation and have come up with an alternative option for consideration.

"The findings of this report show that closing Pleck Library would be detrimental to the residents of Pleck ward.

"The alternative option highlights better value for money approach."

In response to the petition and planned demonstration, Councillor Anthony Harris, community, leisure and culture boss, said: "From day one to try and keep as many of the library facilities open as we can.

"That's still my ambition.

"At the moment nothing has been decided and that gives me the space to opportunity to do what I can to keep these facilities."

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