Shropshire Star

'It is one of the gems of Newport': Residents to pay extra council tax to save town library

Residents in Newport will be paying more council tax this year as the town council moves to secure the future of the town library.

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Residents in Newport will be paying more this year as the town council secure the future of its library

Newport Town Council has agreed to raise its precept next year by 12.93 per cent to cover the cost of taking over the High Street library from Telford & Wrekin Council.

The council had initially proposed a 15 per cent increase – equivalent to £18.94 a year extra on a Band D property – but this was then reduced.

Newport Mayor Ian Perry said that the slight reduction was due to the number of new houses included in paying the council tax precept.

“Telford & Wrekin Council came to us and said that either we take on the library or it would close,” said Councillor Perry.

“People have been telling us that they want the library, so we felt it was a good decision to take. There are quite a lot of people in Newport who don’t get out and about in cars.

“Nobody wants to pay extra, but we were left with the choice of finding that money or closing. We didn’t feel it was appropriate to close the library as it is one of the gems of Newport.”

Councillor Perry added that the First Point service which allows people to apply for, among other things, bus passes and blue badges, or seek advice would have also closed as part of the library.

“As with all libraries it’s more than a place just to get books, it’s a community place and all the extra things that we want to keep open,” added Councillor Perry.

Deputy Mayor Thomas Janke said that councillors were unanimous in the decision to provide funding for the library after the service was highlighted as a ‘high priority’ in a recent residents survey.

“This was a great example of councillors across the political spectrum working together to save a vital community resource,” said Councillor Janke.

“I would like to thank the clerk for her hard work behind the scenes, and also the members of the resources and finance committee for their well-reasoned recommendations.

“I’m delighted that the council has taken this opportunity to take over custody of the library. For me, this is a vital community resource that I can see going from strength to strength.

“Residents can be assured that we have heard your concerns about the library closing and we have acted accordingly.

“I foresee Newport Library continuing to improve in importance and stature under the management of Newport Town Council.”

At its December meeting, town council members requested that the council’s clerk contact neighbouring parishes to invite them to support the library initiative with a financial contribution.

As part of their budget proposals for the 2024/25 financial year, allotment fees will increase by five per cent and cemetery fees 10 per cent (five per cent for concessions).

The town council precept is in addition to the proposed 4.99 per cent increase in council tax by Telford & Wrekin Council. Police and fire authorities will also set a precept which forms part of residents’ overall council tax bill.