Delight as council decides not to cut Ellesmere Library's opening hours
Campaigners have spoken of their delight after it emerged that plans to cut opening hours at Ellesmere Library are set to be shelved.
The Friends of Ellesmere Library has welcomed Shropshire Council's decision not to cut the opening hours at the town's library.
It comes as more than 200 people lodged objections to the proposal to reduce library opening times by three hours a week.
At Wednesday's cabinet meeting the council approved a proposal to close Shawbury's library and to replace it with a mobile service once a week, and also confirmed plans to cut a total of 57 opening hours across 11 of the county's libraries.
A report to the cabinet meeting said that current opening hours at the library in Ellesmere will continue, subject to a review by a new operator.
Bethphage, a charitable and specialist provider of support for adults with learning disabilities, is set to run the Meres Day Centre in Ellesmere in a move which is expected to see the town's library relocate there from Fullwood House later this year.
John Shone, chairman of the Friends of Ellesmere Library, said: "Members of the council's cabinet decided to keep the existing hours at the Ellesmere branch unchanged after hearing that the Bethphage social care organisation hopes to take over the running of the library from October.
"The library is expected to be relocated from Fullwood House to the nearby Meres Day Centre by the end of the year.
"A report to the cabinet meeting explained that current opening hours will continue, subject to review by the new operator with local stakeholders.
"During an initial meeting with the friends' group last month, Bethphage executives indicated that the current hours would be maintained and that there could even be an opportunity to increase them when the move was completed.
"It was heartening to learn that during the recent public consultation more than 200 people in Ellesmere lodged objections to the proposal to reduce library opening times by three hours a week.
"If the cuts had gone ahead it would have meant closing on Saturday afternoon and staying open no later than 5pm on Tuesday and Friday, the other two days when the service is available."
Mr Shone said the friends' committee wanted to thank everyone who took part in the consultation. "The response from Ellesmere was far, far greater than other areas, including Gobowen and Oswestry, which are now facing cuts in hours," he added.
Under the plans 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 – 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, 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.