Fears over future of Wrexham library services


Liam Randall

LIBRARY-users have raised concerns over the future of the service as it comes under the spotlight tomorrow.

A report going before Wrexham Council’s homes, environment and communities committee outlines possible cuts to be made to provide a minimum level of service.

Suggestions include closing libraries at Brymbo, Gresford and one of either Cefn Mawr, Rhos and Ruabon libraries.

Other options include reducing the amount spent on books and resources by £35,000, reducing opening hours at all libraries by five per cent and cutting the number of computers available to the public from 172 to 95.

The report says the preferred option would be to keep the service as it is.
Running the libraries at a minimum level, which meets statutory requirements, would produce savings for the authority of between £128,000-£193,000 a year.

Members are being asked to comment on the findings of the review, which will go before the executive board at a later date.

It looks at providing a reduced minimum level of service that meets statutory requirements, but at the lowest cost.

Closing Gresford library would save £5,000 with the service being provided by Llay library and a mobile library, but residents and councillors have voiced strong opposition to any possible proposals to close their library.

Gresford East and West councillor Andrew Bailey said: “It’s a vital asset. I’ve been asking for footfall statistics and it is being used.”

Nicola Garbutt, 44, who lives opposite the library said: “I’m not happy that they’re even thinking of closing it.

“My kids use it for their school work and we’re there two to three times a month.”

Edward Howard, 77 and his wife June, who live at the Nurseries, said: “You’re not going to save much money by closing it and it’s well used. It’s part of the community and we take our grand-daughter there regularly.”

The report says closing Brymbo library would save £16,000 in the next financial year. Visitor numbers at the library have dropped 12 per cent in 10 years.

The report states: “With the service provided by Brynteg and Coedpoeth libraries and a mobile library, a preferred option would be to co-locate the service with other local facilities.”

But Brymbo councillor Paul Rogers said: “As a council I don’t believe we should be closing libraries. They are an important service to the community which should be protected.

“Brymbo library has just had a bit of a facelift, we’ve put in new furniture in an attempt to attract more people and footfall has increased.”

Christopher Fuller, 54, from Brymbo, said: “I think it would be a shame if it closed.

When you get older it’s good to know you can use a library in the community.”

Dave Stapley, 62, of Offa Street, said: “I always used to go to Brymbo library every month, but the hours don’t suit me as I work shifts. I think they should leave it open but be as flexible as possible.”

The report also suggests the closure of one of either Cefn Mawr, Rhos or Ruabon libraries could be considered due to their proximity.

However, if one of them was closed, recent Welsh Government grants to fund their refurbishment may need to be reimbursed.

The report states reducing library opening hours across the board by an average of five per cent would save £12,000 and cutting the number of computers is estimated to save £25,500 over five years.

In the report Wrexham Council’s lead member for communities, partnerships and collaboration, Hugh Jones said: “The overall conclusion of the review is that while the preferred approach would be to leave things as they are, it is possible to meet the Public Library Standards while also reducing the level and cost of the service and that this should be carefully considered given the economic situation.”

See full story in the Leader

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