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Council 'can't afford' £20,000 to run library

Oswestry | News | Published:

It would have cost a parish council about £20,000 a year to take over the running of a library that is closing, it has emerged.

Shawbury Parish Council said it could not afford to keep the village library open as it would have cost it about half of its budget.

The situation illustrates the difficulty facing town and parish councils across the county that are being asked to take on services that were previously funded by Shropshire Council.

Shropshire Council's cabinet recently approved a proposal to close Shawbury library and to replace it with a mobile service once a week.

Jack Wilson, clerk to the parish council, said: "We knew what was going to happen. It's been on the cards for 12 months.

"We could not take it over as we don't own the village hall where it is based. Lots of parish councils own their village halls and employ staff. We have no one employed.

"To pay rent and staff it would have cost us approaching £20,000 a year, which is 50 per cent of our budget.

"The village hall committee couldn't take it over and RAF Shawbury has its own library.

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"User numbers were not very high. Less people want to use a library these days. There are alternative means and if you want to find out information you can use the internet.

"People seem to buy three books for £5 these days and then hand them to others to use when they have finished with them."

He added: "A mobile service is coming once a week which is good news. I know Shawbury is a bigger village but it has worked in Myddle and Broughton very well."

Shropshire Council's cabinet has also confirmed plans to cut a total of 57 opening hours across 11 of the county's libraries.

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Bridgnorth Library will see a reduction of 11 and a half hours, Ludlow – six hours, Market Drayton – five and a half hours, Oswestry – eight hours, Shrewsbury will see a reduction of eight and a half hours, Whitchurch – three hours, Bayston Hill – two and a half hours, Gobowen – two hours, Much Wenlock – two hours, Shrewsbury, The Lantern – three hours, and Wem – five hours.

Councillor Stuart West, Shropshire Council's cabinet member responsible for libraries, said that the move would ensure that libraries could remain open.

He said: "They are mild savings not really affecting libraries to a great extent.

"We are keeping libraries open which is important and I think in general the response from the public has enabled us to put in operation a scheme for each individual library. Originally it was proposed to have a 68-hour reduction, through the consultation it has been reduced to 57 hours across 11 libraries.

"It is very important to recognise that library services are very important and it is important we do keep them open. I think what we have come up with in the review of opening hours is sensible."

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