Plans for libraries go ahead

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THE plan to change Wigan’s libraries has been backed by councillors.

A new four-tier plan for all the services in the borough was backed by members of Wigan Council’s Cabinet which officers say will preserve library services in communities across the borough for years to come.

The report outlines a new model for the library service in the borough in the face of significant pressures on council budgets.

The council and its partners in Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, who manage the library service, need to find £1.1m in savings from the library budget following government cuts.

Under the new model, Libraries Central (Wigan &Leigh) will be the format for the two town centre libraries which will operate the longest opening hours and the broadest range of products and services. They will open between 50 and 55 hours per week.

Libraries Local (Ashton, Golborne,Hindley, Lamberhead Green, Standish and Tyldesley) will be located into smaller town centres and will offer a broad range of book stock, information and activities. Many of these will be co-located with other services or host other services. They will open 35-40 hours per week.

Libraries Express (Aspull,Atherton, Ince, Hope, Marsh Green, Platt Bridge and Shevington) are located in urban areas and communities. They will offer core library services such as books and computers and will be self service and open for a minimum of 18 hours per week.

Libraries Direct (Abram, Orrell and Beech Hill) will provide access to a range of services that can be accessed from home.

The Mobile Library Service is withdrawn but the Home Delivery Service will continue to provide a ‘direct to door’ service for people with mobility issues. The Leisure Trust will now work on the details of the proposals to allow the new structure to start operating in January.

Despite 40 or so people protesting at the meeting, councillors said they thought the plans were the right thing to do.

Coun Keith Cunliffe said: “I think the report maintains a level of service to all the residents of the borough and should be commended.”

Staff are currently in consultation with the Library service about the report, but head of Library Services, Taryn Pearson told the Cabinet staff have reacted positively to the news.