Pontesbury village library could relocate

A village library could be relocated under plans by Shropshire Council.

The library in Pontesbury, near Shrewsbury, could be moved to a new community hub being constructed in the village.

A consultation was held last year over the future of the library and a decision is expected to be made by Shropshire Council’s cabinet in March.

The library saw 8,192 visits in 2017/18, down from 9,895 in 2013/14, but the number of registered borrowers was up to 549 from 522 in the same period.

There were also more than 7,500 fewer book loans in the last year compared to four years previously, while the computers had been used for 10,700 fewer minutes than four years back.

The council is proposing to relocate the library to a new community hub building at Hall Bank in the village.

Plans for the Hall Bank development were approved in September 2018 and as part of the overall project Shropshire Homes are offering to construct a community hub building. This building could house a range of community services and functions that would form a focal point for the development as a whole.

A report to the council says: “Shropshire Council’s budget is reducing and the way in which it delivers services is changing.

“We are coming to the end of the first year of a three year financial plan through which £80-90 million will be saved. Shropshire’s current and future population demographics means that vital services such as looking after elderly people and vulnerable children must be prioritised. Changes to all local and strategic services are unavoidable.

“The cabinet approved budget reduction for the library service means there will be a funding gap up to £1.5m, this in turn means that the budget available for Pontesbury library will not be sufficient to deliver the service in the current way.

“This applies to all our libraries across the county and the back-office function of the service, not just in Pontesbury.

“We are seeking local solutions to these challenges that will result in a sustainable, if altered library service that meet our statutory duties.

“Shropshire Council aims to deliver library services in partnership with communities so that they can be tailored to support the individual needs of people in their communities and help to ensure those who have specific needs can access services appropriately.

“The redesigned library service could potentially result in a range of different delivery activities including face to face provision, digital and virtual provision. Alongside this change the network of library buildings will be reconfigured.

“Pontesbury library has been awarded a Tier 2 status and since early 2015. Shropshire Council has been working in partnership with key organisations in Pontesbury, Minsterley, Worthen & the surrounding area to develop a solution for the future of the library that is high quality, affordable and sustainable.”

The proposal will go to cabinet on March 20.

Story by Local Democracy Reporter Andrew Morris

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