A VILLAGE library has earned a reprieve from closure following a large public backlash.
Rhos Library was previously earmarked for closure under proposals put before Wrexham Council’s executive board as part of £92,000 worth of savings to be made from the library service.
The proposals sparked a backlash from Rhos residents which saw a petition launched and about 30 protesters gather outside Wrexham Guildhall chanting ‘Save Rhos Library’ ahead of a scrutiny meeting on the proposals.
But Rhos Library has now earned a reprieve as proposals to close it have been withdrawn from a report due to go before the authority’s executive board on Tuesday.
However, both Brymbo and Gresford libraries will close in April unless ongoing discussion for community groups to provide the service elsewhere in both villages prove fruitful.
Brymbo Library may be saved if it is moved to Brymbo Enterprise Centre, which would need external funding from the Welsh Government.
And a public meeting is being held this month to consider alternative provision in Gresford.
Cllr Hugh Jones, lead member for communities, partnerships and collaboration, said the council was looking to establish a trust to deliver library and museums services in order to prevent future library closures.
Other proposals which will be considered next week are the reduction of opening hours at all libraries by an average of 19 per cent.
Some areas of library spending have already been a cut, including the amount spent on books.
“What we’ve been trying to do right the way through this is to make sure we have the best service commensurate to the budget we have,” said Cllr Jones.
“If you take the cost per week at Brymbo, it’s £5.21 per visit, compared to Gwersyllt which is £1.63 per visit.
“The cost at Gresford is £3.12 per visit.
“We’ve developed an arrangement that says if the community can come forward with an alternative provision, we can facilitate that to the best of our abilities.
“In terms of reducing opening hours, that won’t be 19 per cent in each and every library as some are so small.”
Cllr Jones said in terms of achieving Public Library Standards for Wales, Wrexham was the highest achieving authority in the country.
However, he admitted the changes would reduce opening hour standards below the minimum of 120 hours per 1,000 population.
In relation to the reprieve for Rhos Library, he said: “First of all, we were looking for £128,000 in cuts and we’re now looking at £92,000.
“In discussion with local representatives, we’re looking at a future provision of the library facility with the Stiwt.
“What we don’t want to happen year-on-year is salami slicing by closing more libraries.
“I’ve given officers a very clear challenge to come up with an alternative provision.”
Rhos councillor Paul Pemberton said: “I’m ecstatic, to be perfectly honest, that we’ve had a reprieve.
“I hope they’re sympathetic with us in the future.
“I feel for other communities that are going to lose out.”
Brymbo councillor Paul Rogers said a draft funding bid had been prepared for the potential alternative library provision at Brymbo Enterprise Centre and would be submitted to the Welsh Government if the council approved the proposals.
“Obviously the key to making this work is the community,” he said.
“There’s still a bit of work to be done on it. The model of the library is still being ironed out.
“Before we were looking at the library being closed altogether, now we’re looking at an alternative provision which could see the use of volunteers.”
Gresford councillor Andrew Bailey said: “I have been pleased with the volume of support and the passions expressed by those who believe in our local library service.
“I have organised a public meeting to harness that support for its future which will be held later this month.
“I am grateful to chief officer Dylan Hughes and the lead member Hugh Jones for confirming their attendance, and would emphasise that it is very important for all those who are interested in the future of the library to attend and have their say.”
The meeting will be held in Gresford Memorial Hall on Wednesday, January 29, starting at 7.30pm.