Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

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Walsall Council Budget – New Invention Library,

by Ian Shires on 23 February, 2017

Image result for walsall librariesBack in October last year Walsall Council only had sufficient funding to keep one library open and that was the Central Library next to the Council House in Walsall. Things were so bad back then that there were proposals to close both the History Centre and the Leather Museum and incorporate them into the Central Library as well. On top of all that the New Art Gallery funding was to be reduced threatening its very existence as well.

Move on three months during which time members of the public and user groups have made their comments and suggestions, and the Labour/LibDem Cabinet members have investigated ways of doing things differently, making what funding we have in the face of the cuts in support councils get from Central Government and things look a bit brighter.

The Council still needs to spend £86 million less over the next four years due to cuts in its funding, but by working with partners, in particular the voluntary sector, and by cutting red tape we have been able to find sufficient funding to ensure that not only do we have Walsall’s Central Library but we have been able to ensure that a library exists in each of the District Centres. So Willenhall, Darlaston, Bloxwich, Brownhills and Aldridge will be able to keep their libraries open.

Unfortunately the budget is still £1.8 million short of the current cost of keeping all libraries open. That means that there are nine smaller libraries which can’t be kept open after the end of June and that includes our library up at The Square, New Invention.

On the bright side I have had a number of people come forward to say that they are interested in keeping the building open and developing a community run Hub and they are busy now trying to attract funding and other like minded people who would like to help develop not only the old library space on the ground floor but the acres of empty space upstairs.

It’s early days yet but something really good could come out of all this and the beauty of all this is that it’s driven entirely by members of our community. It’s not going to be easy but then things worth having never are. If you want to help, have special skills which would help others then let me know via one of the contact buttons above.

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