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Shropshire Council's plans to hand libraries over to groups opposed by campaigners

Oswestry | News | Published:

Council plans to hand libraries over to community groups and organisations are being met head-on by campaigners.

Protesters handed a petition to Shropshire Council yesterday against plans to close or reduce services at Shawbury Library, while others met to fight the issue affecting towns and villages across the county.

Last night the Shropshire Libraries Yes Campaign was launched during a meeting at Shrewsbury United Reformed Church.

The council announced earlier this year that it was looking to save £1.3 million by finding alternative management for some of its library services.

The council is currently looking at options for libraries in Ellesmere, Shawbury, Broseley, Shifnal and Church Stretton. It was announced earlier this week the running of Bishop's Castle Library will be handed over to Enterprise South West Shropshire.

Michael Green, who chaired the campaign group's meeting, said: "Public libraries are surely a hallmark of a civilised, caring and self-confident society."

Thelma Thompson, from Church Stretton, said: "Libraries are clearly very important culturally. There are places for people to meet and there aren't many public spaces left in society."

Mr Green said: "They say council reserves are for a rainy day – isn't this a rainy day?"

Meanwhile, Shropshire Council said that consultation into the proposed closure of Shawbury Library is set to continue – despite a 1,200-strong petition against the plans. The document was presented by Shawbury resident Kevin Richards at a full council meeting yesterday amid fears the library could be cut to a mobile service.

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Mr Richards said a mobile service would exclude the majority of people and that if Shawbury Library was to close the nearest library would be in Harlescott, Shrewsbury.

But Shawbury councillor Simon Jones said neither the parish council nor parish hall committee was willing to take it on.

He said: "At a recent drop-in session which was held only 16 people came along.

"To date nobody I'm aware of has come forward willing to take it over."

The council decided that no further action should be taken and consultation would continue.

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