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Shropshire Council starting to offload its libraries

South Shropshire | News | Published:

Two of Shropshire's libraries have been taken over by community bodies and a further five could be handed over soon as part of major cost-cutting plans, according to a report.

Libraries in Craven Arms and Highley are no longer run by Shropshire Council, while plans are being drawn up to transfer libraries in Bishop's Castle, Broseley, Shifnal and Church Stretton to community groups.

The management of the libraries is being offloaded by Shropshire Council to save £670,000 over the next two years. It is hoped 15 of Shropshire's libraries could be managed by community organisations, while the county's seven principal libraries would become "community hubs" working in partnership with other bodies.

The move comes despite the authority finding more than £500,000 of savings in its libraries budget during the last financial year.

An updated report on the progress of work to redesign the county's library services will go before Shropshire Council's environment scrutiny committee next week. The libraries in Craven Arms and Highley have already been transferred to community management – the former to South Shropshire Furniture Scheme, the latter to Halo Leisure within the Severn Centre.

Michael Lewis, library services manager for Shropshire Council, said that there were plans for the future of five further libraries.

They include the transfer of Bishop's Castle Library to Enterprise South West Shropshire, Broseley Library to Broseley Town Council, Shifnal Library to Shifnal Town Council, Cleobury Mortimer Library to the Cleobury Country organisation and Church Stretton Library to a new location and management at South Shropshire Academy.

Discussions are taking place to develop community management for libraries in Albrighton, Bayston Hill, Gobowen, Ellesmere, Much Wenlock, Pontesbury, Shawbury and Wem.

In his report, Mr Lewis says: "The council's vision is that traditional face-to-face services will be delivered by community-based organisations that will maximise the resources available locally and create welcoming and accessible hubs of activity."

The redesigned model will leave a remaining library budget of £2.3 million, the report says. The plans will be discussed at a meeting on June 22.

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