Shropshire Star

New views sought on Shropshire's libraries

Council bosses have renewed the call for views on what should happen to Shropshire's libraries, large and small.


A new "draft strategy" has been released by Shropshire Council suggesting three tiers of how the county's various town and community libraries be treated with regards funding over the coming years.

Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Market Drayton, Oswestry, Shrewsbury and Whitchurch are in tier one, set to continue to receive funding.

Albrighton, Bishop's Castle, Church Stretton, Cleobury Mortimer, Ellesmere, Pontesbury, and Shrewsbury's Library at the Lantern are in tier two, with five years to find alternative funding before losing a cash input from Shropshire Council altogether.

But in tier three Bayston Hill, Broseley, Craven Arms, Gobowen, Highley, Much Wenlock, Shifnal and Wem will only have one year to do the same.

Councillor Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council cabinet member for culture and leisure said criteria used to decide which tier a library was put in included the amount of use it got, deprivation factors in the area, accessibility factors such as remoteness and public transport links, and the population demographic of the area such as the number of older people, younger people and children.

She said: "There isn't an endless pot of money and we have to make sure our funding is aligned to those tiers.

"Our priority is to ensure libraries remain at the heart of our local communities. We know that this is a particularly challenging time for library services. However it is also equally clear that they are also very much highly valued by our local communities and therefore urge all residents to have their say on these proposals.

“We have no intentions to close any of our libraries, however we do need to prioritise how and where our limited resources are spent now and in the future. By having a hierarchy of library services we believe we can ensure all residents get access to a library service.

“The next five years are crucial for the long-term sustainability and success of public library services in Shropshire and this strategy reflects our ambition and commitment to continue to unlock the huge potential that library services have.

“We have and will continue to work closely with our partners and those interested parties to ensure that our libraries remain successful and sustainable in the long term and that they continue to inspire people’s learning and enjoyment.”

She said eight libraries had already successfully transferred to community management with partner organisations across Shropshire, so it was not a new idea to the people of Shropshire.

Under the draft plans mobile library stops will drop from 354 to 277 and Stoke Heath Prison library will continue to be supported.

The draft plan will be put to Shropshire Council's cabinet on July 12 after which it will go out for a 10 week consultation, with a final report going to full council in the autumn.