Flintshire councillors' anger over cost-cutting closures

Reporter:

Lois Hough

COMMUNITY leaders have made an impassioned plea to save their libraries after it emerged they could face closure.

The Leader revealed yesterday that libraries in Queensferry, Garden City, Bagillt, Halkyn and Gwernaffield could shut as part of a massive programme of cuts by Flintshire Council.

The axe could also fall on free transport for pensioners and people with learning disabilities.

Car parking charges could more than double in some parts of the county as part of Flintshire Council’s plan to save £10 million in next year’s budget.

Queensferry councillor David Wisinger said it was “outrageous” that the closure of his local library was being considered.

He said: “The amount of money they would save by closing this library would be measly I would have thought.

“That library is so well used by the adjoining John Summers High School so to close it would be simply outrageous.

“This is a vital service that is used by everybody in the community.

“This would be a terrible decision to take and I will be fighting it all of the way.

“If the council want to save money they can save it in other ways, such as getting rid of expensive managers and consultants, but do not take away our frontline
services.”

Bagillt councillor Mike Rees added: “We haven’t got much in the village as it is. We’re down to the chemist and the McColls shop.

“I’m very, very angry it’s going to close. Now people will have to go to libraries in Holywell and Flint.”

The closure of the five libraries will save £283,000 in the next three years.

Cllr Nigel Steel-Mortimer, executive member for education, suggested the service could be delivered in alternative ways, such as in pubs and shops.

But Sealand councillor Christine Jones, whose nearest library in Garden City is also facing the axe, said this idea was “ludicrous”.

“You can’t expect small children to go into a pub and read a book,” she said.

“We are being stripped of every facility in Sealand.

“They treat us with contempt over the Blue Bridge – we get nothing.

“It’s a facility that we desperately need because some families cannot afford home computers and use those in the library instead.

She added: “The biggest problem I have is that there was no consultation.

“The council just went ahead and made these plans without letting any of the residents know.”

Cllr Jones has now launched a petition against the closure and is encouraging residents to write to education chiefs in protest.

The plans, which have not yet been formally approved, will be put before the executive on December 21.

See full story in the Leader

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