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Future uncertain for Stafford libraries

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: September 03, 2014

Mike Lawrence

Mike Lawrence

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THE future of more than 20 Staffordshire libraries is uncertain, with council bosses unable to give details of radical changes.

Staffordshire County Council has been running 47 face-to-face sessions over 12 weeks since July on the reorganisation of library services over the next three years.

But Claire Geoghegan, who uses Penkridge Library, left a meeting on Wednesday feeling uncertain and concerned about 24 libraries, including Penkridge, which will be marked as ‘library locals’ under the changes.

Claire, 37, told the Newsletter: “The council wants volunteers or community groups to run ‘library locals’. They think the community will have some sort of magic bullet to take it on.

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“I understand some services will be limited and it’s great we’re being consulted, but we need to make an informed decision for that consultation. There’s a lack of information in order to make that decision.”

Cllr Peter Jones, of Penkridge Parish Council, said: “I can’t say I’m 100% confident we can find the volunteers to run it.

“The information is vague and it all seems to be up in the air. Penkridge has a great library and it’s well used. I just hope that can continue.”

When the Newsletter asked Mike Lawrence, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Communities and Localism, what would happen to libraries if volunteers couldn’t be found he said: “I don’t know.”

He added: “These are just proposals and nothing is written in stone. We are asking people if it is something they would like to be responsible for. It could be that we look further afield to voluntary organisations such as Citizens’ Advice.

“At the end of the consultation we will collate the information into a firm plan to be presented to cabinet in February. It should be available to view around January.”

However, Cllr Lawrence said consultation finishes at the end of October and will be finished when the plans go to cabinet.

The three types of library being suggested for the future have been dubbed: ‘library extra’, ‘library core’ (including Stafford Library) and ‘library local’.

A County Council spokesman said: “On public consultations the aim is that the feedback from members of the public help shape the final proposals before any decisions are made.”

Claire has set up a friends group for Staffordshire Libraries. For more information email staffordshirelibraryfriends@gmail.com.

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