PROPOSALS to abandon a library service across Wrexham schools will have a ‘lasting impact’ on young minds according to councillors.
The Leader yesterday revealed the full extent of the proposed cuts for the 2015-16 financial year in a report by Wrexham Council’s lead member for finance, Cllr Malcolm King.
It made bleak reading, with council chiefs warning the current cuts – including the closure of Acrefair’s Plas Madoc Leisure Centre – are ‘the tip of the iceberg’.
Included in the detailed cutbacks – which look to save £4 million for the next financial year 2015-16 rising to at least £8.4 million – are plans for the cessation of Wrexham’s school library service which is run in partnership with Flintshire and Denbighshire councils.
The school library service provides books and a wide range of other educational resources including audio, video, CDs, DVDs, artefacts and art prints, which are available for loan to schools.
Loan services are operated via a mobile library and a weekly delivery service.
Specialist librarians are employed by the service to provide schools with the resources they require, and Wrexham Council have proposed that withdrawing the service in the county will save £115,000.
But the proposal has been blasted by Brymbo councillor Paul Rogers.
Tory Cllr Rogers said: “I am extremely concerned by this development. We must explore all options in order to retain this service.
“Obviously there will be a negative impact on the children whenever a decision like this is taken.
“With Brymbo Library closing recently, I fear for library provision for children in our ward.
“Although we are trying to find ways of reopening the library, this is yet another concerning proposal by the council.”
Cllr David A Bithell, leader of the Wrexham Independents Group, questioned whether the county’s schools had been consulted on the importance of the school library service.
“These decisions look set to have a lasting impact on Wrexham schools,” he said.
“I will be asking the council on Tuesday at the meeting how this decision is going to affect schools in Wrexham and whether each school has been consulted.
“Have the schools been consulted on these proposed savings? I don’t think they have.”
The proposed cuts, which are the first batch of a minimum of £8.2 million worth cuts facing the authority for 2015-16, will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s executive board on Tuesday.
Also included in the savings proposals are the closure of Bersham Heritage Site and a further £200,000 reduction in grass cutting.
Speaking earlier this week, the council’s lead member for finance, Labour Cllr Malcolm King, said: “As I hope people realise, these are unprecedented levels of funding cuts and we are going to have to make deeper cuts as the five year period goes on, in order to find £45 million.
“I am hopeful the total will not be any higher than £8.5 million for next year, but we will know for sure in September, October time.
“We have started the process two months earlier this year in order to give the public a warning as early as possible about what is to come.
“Last year we were criticised for not giving the public more time for consultation so we hope to address that.
“None of us came into politics to have to make huge cuts but our hands our tied.”
Wrexham Council had not provided a formal comment at the time of going to press