Council reclaims public buildings

Wigan Life Centre North Site
Wigan Life Centre North Site

RUNNING of Wigan’s libraries, museums and archives have moved over to Wigan Council as part of the new Deal for Leisure.

As of last Saturday, responsibility for all 15 of the borough’s libraries, two museums and the archive service was transferred from Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) to the local authority. Users have been promised there will be no disruption to services as a result.

The libraries currently attract more than a million visitors a year and in 2013 the service achieved a 96 per cent customer satisfaction rating. Since 2003, (when WLCT took over the running of the libraries) there has been 13,673,675 visits to the borough’s libraries, who have issued 13,639,772 books, DVDs and CDs.

The museums (Museum of Wigan Life and Trencherfield Mill Steam Engine), the archive service at Leigh Town Hall, and two local history service points (Leigh Library and Museum of Wigan Life) have also been transferred.

Last year there were 38,103 visits to Wigan Images Online (an online picture archive), 27,076 visits to the Museum of Wigan Life, which hosts four exhibitions a year, 2,787 public visits to Trencherfield Mill, and 5,663 participants attended activities hosted by the Museums and Archives.

The move is part of the council’s wider ambition to bring services together and will see the council work much closer with its leisure partner WLCT. The total number of staff being brought back in house is 138 – all of whom have transferred over to Wigan Council.

Coun Paul Kenny, cabinet member for leisure at Wigan Council, said: “Bringing the libraries and heritage service back into the council will give us greater control, allowing us to transform and develop them to become even better community hubs. It will also allow us to broaden the services we offer from them – making sure that we’re making the most out of these important facilities.

“We’re delighted to welcome nearly 140 enthusiastic staff over to the council and I personally look forward to working with the team to help shape these services to make them even better and more valuable to communities across the borough.”

More services will move over to the council next year, including green spaces, bereavement services and support services.

As part of the deal, WLCT will focus more on managing the services that have the greatest impact on health, such as leisure centres, Sports Development and its Active Living programme. The council has also committed to a significant investment programme in sports and leisure facilities, such as Howe Bridge and Robin Park sports centres.

Residents will only see subtle changes to the way services are provided initially. The aim is to complete the new deal by April 2015.