Council tax could rise over Cleobury Mortimer library funding
Residents in a south Shropshire town could see a significant increase in their council tax due to potential changes to their local library service.
Shropshire Council has proposed changes to the way it funds Cleobury Mortimer library, based in Cleobury Country Centre on Love Lane.
The town council said that under the plans, it would need to fund £24,000 towards the service by the end of 2024/25, meaning a 20 per cent increase on council tax precept.
This increase would facilitate the cost of keeping the library and would equal an extra £21 per year for the average Band D property.
In 2018/19 there were 532 active users of the library, down eight per cent on the previous year, with 68 per cent of users being Cleobury residents.
There was an overall visitor total of 21,647.
Councillors said they wanted to ask the public for their opinion on funding the service but needed more information from Shropshire Council first.
Shropshire Council said the proposals were part of on-going discussions for the long-term delivery of the library.
Currently, there is a 25 year lease agreement between Shropshire Council and Cleobury Mortimer Country Centre in regards to the library.
Councillor Debbie Brown, chairwoman of Cleobury Mortimer Town Council, said the library was an essential part of the community.
She said: “We cannot go out to a public consultation yet because it is only a draft proposal from Shropshire Council.
"It makes it difficult for us to go out to the community because if you are looking at the cost to us five years down the line, that is going to be a significant increase in people’s council tax. That is not a decision we can make without going to public consultation I’m afraid.”
Councillor John Bodenham, said: “If the funding of this does not come about in any way then the statutory requirement by a library service is that it becomes a mobile library service.”
The council will write to Shropshire Council to ask for in-depth statistics on library users and also ask at what stage does the plan move from a draft outline proposal to a formal one.
Councillor Lezley Picton, of Shropshire Council, said: “Shropshire Libraries has been working closely with key local partners regarding the future of Cleobury Mortimer library service.
"We have put together an outline funding proposal for Cleobury Mortimer based on increasing contributions from the town council. This proposal has been put together to form the basis for on-going discussions to explore long-term sustainable delivery for the library.”