Libraries in Brymbo and Gresford face closure unless alternative community based solutions are found.
The proposals to close the two libraries are due to go before the Council Executive Board on January 14th, as Wrexham Council continue to make cuts of around £13.9m to make financial savings. The closure of the two libraries combined with the reduction of opening hours would save £92,000.
It is recommended that libraries in Brymbo and Gresford are closed in April of this year unless an alternative is found. The two libraries have been chosen for closure based on their level of usage, the cost per visit and the proximity to alternative libraries.
Rhos library was also tipped for closure in the initial recommendation last year, however the revised recommendation proposes only Gresford and Brymbo libraries are closed.
Speaking about the decision to close the two libraries, Lead Member for Communities, Partnership and Collaboration, Cllr Hugh Jones stated that it costs £5.21 per visit per person to use Brymbo library. While it costs £3.12 per visit for Gresford library.
Cllr Jones added: “We are trying to ensure we deliver the best possible library service that we can deliver. What we are trying to do is provide an alternative provision and support the communities with that provision.”
In November the Homes, Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee rejected proposals to close libraries in Brymbo, Rhos and Gresford, opting to instead reduce opening hours by 26% across all libraries in Wrexham. Along with this the Committee recommended that the use of community hubs as a possible option to house the libraries, was also looked into.
However the Exec Board report proposes that opening hours at all Wrexham’s libraries are reduced by an average of 19%, with a revised pattern of opening hours being prepared. This pattern will be based on on a survey of usage, some Saturday closures and reductions to morning and evening opening hours. However the 19% won’t reduction won’t occur in all libraries, with a lesser percentage being implemented for some.
Cllr Jones said: “Twice the libraries have been to Scrutiny, but they opposed to closing any. In November it was recommended not to close any.
“The reality is that wasn’t sustainable.”
It is stated in the report that at present some ‘mitigating solutions are being considered’. These include the possible relocation of Brymbo Library to the Enterprise Centre, which would require external funding from the Welsh Government. With regards to the future of Gresford library, a public meeting will be held in Gresford Memorial Hall on Wednesday 29th January, starting at 7.30pm to discuss potential future provision.
Gresford Councillor Andrew Bailey said: “I have been pleased with the volume of support and the passions expressed by those who believe in our local library service. I have organised a public meeting to harness that support for it’s future which will be held later this month. I amm grateful to Chief Officer Dylan Hughes and the Lead Member Hugh Jones for confirming their attendance, and would emphasise that it is very important for all those who are interested in the future of the library to attend and have their say.
“No individual is going to determine the future of Gresford library on their own but by bringing those who care for their local library together, we could have the start of a strong community campaign.”
The Council Executive Board meeting will take place at the Guildhall at 2pm on January 14th. It’s open to the public, so pop along and have your say!
The full Library report can be found on the Council Website here.