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Walsall library closures: Pelsall protest meeting is packed out as Aldridge gets good news

Walsall | News | Published:

More than 100 people attended a public meeting about the potential closure of a multi-million pound library in Walsall.

Pelsall Library, which was opened five years ago by Prince Edward, is one of nine in the borough earmarked for closure under cuts planned by Walsall Council chiefs.

Councillors John Rochelle, John Murray and Tim Wilson with Sue Satterthwaite and Kerry Shaw celebrate the news that Aldridge library is in line to remain open

Campaigners fighting plans to close Aldridge Library are celebrating the news that the site may no longer be earmarked for closure.

The library, based on Rookery Lane, Walsall, was one of 15 libraries selected by Walsall council as potentially closing due to budget cuts.

However, the council have now said that the library may remain open along with others in Brownhills, Bloxwich, Willenhall and Darlaston, though other smaller ones are still earmarked to close.

The news has been a cause for delight for campaigners, who protested against the plans in November last year.

A petition was launched which amassed more than 1,500 signatures, meaning that councillors would have to debate the issue at the next council meeting.

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Councillor John Murray of Aldridge Central and South said: "It's not cut and dry yet, but it's a great feeling and very satisfying to know that all our efforts have worked. Often you can work really really hard and not get anywhere, but the people that organised the petition and all those that backed it must be very proud of themselves.

"The library does some great work in the community, in addition to lending books, and it's good to know that it may stay open for good."

The petition will be discussed at the next council meeting on February 23.

Residents of all ages gathered to hear about the future of the library, which is based in Pelsall Village Centre, on Monday night.

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Councillors Marco Longhi, Oliver Bennett and Garry Perry handed out copies of a draft letter, which will be sent to cabinet members, urging for the library to be saved.

It comes as a petition against its closure has also been signed by scores of people in recent weeks.

Councillor Perry, who has served as a Pelsall councillor for nearly 19 years, reassured residents that a 'plan' was in place to keep it open.

He explained: "This isn't just a public meeting where we listen and then go away, we want to reassure everyone that we do have a plan in place to do all we can.

"Working together is the only way – through people power – that we will influence change at cabinet level.

"I don't think I have ever been to a public meeting that has gathered as much support as this.

"Borrowing books may have reduced but the library is more than a book and that is the message we need to get across."

Chairman for the meeting councillor Marco Longhi stands next to councillor Oliver Bennett

The letter, devised by the three ward councillors, suggests that Pelsall Library should be given the same status as district libraries or Streetly Library which now has a 'hub status' and is community led.

It will be handed to councillors with the petition at a meeting on February 25.

Council Sean Coughlan has said he would 'welcome' communities coming forward with 'realistic proposals'.

Councillor Garry Perry

The Labour and Liberal Democrat run authority had originally proposed to close 15 of the borough's 16 libraries, leaving just the central library open.

However at a press conference last week Councillor Sean Coughlan, the leader of the council, announced that six libraries on top of the one in the town centre would be staying open. These are Aldridge, Bloxwich, Brownhills, Darlaston and Willenhall and Streetly.

As well as being a new library, Pelsall visitor figures are the highest in the borough apart from the main library in the town centre.

The council owned Village Centre, which it is housed in, will also remain open as it houses GP surgeries and the pre-school alliance.

The online version of the petition against Pelsall's closure can be be viewed at you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-pelsall-library

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