Book thrown at Walsall Council over libraries

A Walsall MP has called for closed down libraries to be reopened while the town's main library is being refurbished.

Walsall Central Library
Walsall Central Library

Walsall Central Library is set to be shut for the next 10 months for a major revamp.

Valerie Vaz says it means that on the back of closures to Palfrey, Pheasey and Pleck libraries, many of her constituents were not getting 'full access' to services over the period.

She has written to the town council's chief executive and the Culture Secretary Matt Hancock outlining her astonishment over the reduced access to libraries in the borough.

Ms Vaz, who opposed the council's decision to close Pheasey, Pleck and South Walsall libraries last year, said the authority had a statutory duty to provide a 'comprehensive and efficient' library service.

“Darlaston Library is simply too far for my constituents in Palfrey, Pheasey and Pleck," she said.

"Many children go to libraries to do their homework as they may not have the resources to do so at home.

"In my letter to Walsall MBC, I asked what assessments were carried out before the closure of Walsall Central Library on the impact on children’s access to a library in Walsall South, and whether the council has fulfilled its statutory obligations under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964."

Walsall Council is providing a temporary replacement library service from February 5 in the main council building.

And Walsall district libraries will be increasing their opening hours by three hours per week and opening for the first time on Sundays.

Ms Vaz added: "These new opening hours will apply to the temporary replacement library on Lichfield Street, but despite these changes, the library will still only offer a reduced service.

“I suggested to the chief executive that whilst Walsall Central Library is being refurbished, a previously closed library should reopen so that children and adults can still have full access to library services.

“I raised with the Secretary of State that it is not just favourable for my constituents to have full access to a library, but a necessity, and the Government has statutory duty to provide this.

"I welcome improvements to libraries but I am astonished that my constituents will be left without full access to a library for up to a year.”

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