Shropshire Star

At least four of six under-threat Telford libraries will be safe, say council leaders

At least four of the six libraries in Telford under threat of the axe will be saved, council leaders predicted today.


Telford & Wrekin Council cabinet member Councillor Shaun Davies made the claim as he revealed a deal had been brokered to save Hadley Library following talks between Hadley & Leegomery Parish Council and Hadley Learning Community (HLC), where it is sited.

That site, along with libraries in Dawley, Stirchley, Newport, Donnington and Madeley, have been earmarked for closure.

It comes as the council looks to make savings of £30 million over the next two years because of Government cuts.

The council today claimed people in Telford & Wrekin are losing the equivalent of £11 million of funding a year for local services because the way councils are funded penalises those with low council tax and more homes of relatively lower value than other councils.

Hadley Library, based at Hadley Learning Community: Councillor Davies said a deal had been reached to save the library following talks between Telford & Wrekin Council, Hadley Learning Community and Hadley & Leegomery Parish Council.

The parish council has confirmed negotiations are well under way.

But clerk Jonathan Brumwell admitted it still did not have the figures for how much the council would have to pay to bridge the gap.

Stirchley Library at Sambrook Centre

Stirchley Library at Sambrook Centre: Brookside & Stirchley Parish Council clerk Gillian Bailey said they were in talks with Telford & Wrekin about the library.

She said a meeting would discuss the library next week - but a final decision was not likely until March.

"The library is obviously located in the building that we use," she said. "But we have not made any decisions on its future yet."

Donnington Library

Donnington Library, in Turreff Avenue: Donnington & Muxton Parish Council also discussed the future of Donnington Library at a meeting last night.

Clerk Ralph Morgan confirmed the council was "considering options" for the running of the library but said it was unclear what the final outcome would be.

"We have the Lifelong Learning Centre under threat as well, so we have a few options to discuss," he said.

Dawley Library, based at Pheonix Academy: Great Dawley Town Council was due to discuss the library at a meeting of its executive committee last night - but clerk Clare Turner said a final decision was unlikely until March.

"It's something that the town council is exploring with Telford & Wrekin Council," she said.

"The town council has obviously got an interest in keeping services for its residents."

Dawley Library is based at The Telford Langley School

Dawley Library, based at Telford Langley School: Great Dawley Town Council was due to discuss the library at a meeting of its executive committee last night - but clerk Clare Turner said a final decision was unlikely until March.

"It's something that the town council is exploring with Telford & Wrekin Council," she said.

"The town council has obviously got an interest in keeping services for its residents."

Newport Library

Newport Library, in the town's High Street:

At the moment seems the least likely to be saved.

Newport Town Council clerk Lee Jakeman says the town council wants the library to stay open, but that councillors feel Telford & Wrekin should still be footing the bill to fund it.

He said if the borough council was continuing to fund the library in Wellington, it should do the same for Newport.

Madeley Library

Madeley Library, in Russell Square: Madeley Town Council is the only town council which does not seem to have had any talks yet with Telford & Wrekin Council about the future of its library.

Clerk Kath Petty said: "We haven't spoken to Telford & Wrekin Council yet.

"We have a meeting booked in for later this month and we will see how that goes."

Government figures show that the average "spending power" for English councils is £1,829 per home next year. But for Telford & Wrekin it is only £1,676 , which is equivalent to £153 less a year for every home in the borough

Councillor Davies today admitted he was "worried" about the future of two of the six libraries, although he insisted bosses would continue to hold talks. He did not name which of the two libraries they were.

"I'm delighted that we are now in a position to announce that Hadley Library will be saved," Councillor Davies said.

"As a result of partnership work with the borough council, Hadley & Leegomery Parish Council and the HLC school a deal has been struck in principle to save Hadley Library.

"It is absolutely fantastic news for the residents of Hadley and Leegomery.

"I'm absolutely delighted that the parish council and the school has come forward to help us do that.

"Now what I am absolutely sure of as well, working with other partners, is that we will be in a position where we will be able to make further announcements on libraries.

"Of the six there are four that I am pretty confident we have got a plan to save, and I think partners are coming to the table to save those.

"It shows the spirit of co-operation that we have in our borough.

"We made an absolute pledge that where there was going to be an alternative to closure we would act and do everything we could to ensure that alternative came to fruition.

"There are two that I am worried about, but we are talking actively to partners in those two areas.

"I have been to many parish and town council meetings last week, I have got more parish and town council meetings this week, also voluntary sector organisations, also residents groups, and there are lots of exciting conversations to be had.

"I am hoping that right across the borough we won't have to close any libraries."

Jonathan Brumwell, clerk of Hadley and Leegomery Parish Council said the council had not formally voted to save the library yet.

But he added: "There are negotiations under way currently.

"We are awaiting final figures but certainly the parish council is working with HLC and Telford & Wrekin Council to see whether we can meet the gap in funding.

"We already partially fund the library at HLC, the public library.

"At this stage we are waiting for final figures, but certainly the parish council is looking to see how we can support the library.

"The council has not formally voted for it yet, as we do not know what the bill will be.

"But we will be making provision for budget in 2017 to support the library."

The clerks of Great Dawley Town Council, Donnington & Muxton Parish Council and Brookside & Stirchley Parish Council confirmed early talks had already been held with Telford & Wrekin Council, although all stressed no decisions had been made.

Madeley Town Council clerk Kath Petty said she had not had any talks with the borough council yet, although there was a meeting pencilled in for this month.

But Newport Town Council clerk Lee Jakeman said Telford & Wrekin Council should continue to fund the libraries under threat.

"There are a whole host of budget cuts being proposed and Newport Town Council is opposed to many of the cuts," he said.

"It believes that many of the services should remain the responsibility of the local unitary authority.

"At a recent meeting of town councillors, members were clear that the service of a book lending facility and its associated community benefits were of great importance to them.

"In the case of the 'library' their first reaction might be that a budget that proposes a closure of it is not acceptable and that Telford & Wrekin should go back and do it again until a budget can be drawn up that does not require the closure of a local authority maintained library.

"If Wellington can have theirs funded by Telford &Wrekin, why can't the other major town in the borough have theirs funded similarly?"

The consultation period on the budget cuts ended yesterday, with council chiefs meeting behind closed doors later this week to consider the results.

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