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Sunday December 09 2018

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In Full . . .

Library ‘noise’ wanted

Posted on November 30 2018 at 2:14:20

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Villagers are being urged to give their support to Alvechurch Library, as the county council reviews the venue’s future.

The library, which serves residents across The Village area, is under threat  along with many other services as the county faces a growing lack of cash after years of “austerity”.

The county says all its libraries outside large towns are going to “change” and it has launched a public consultation to help to decide the fate of each library in Worcestershire.

County councillor Peter McDonald told Lickey and Blackwell parish councillors: “They have to hold a consultation by law, but if you think they will take a ha’p’orth of notice of a consultation then you must have been born this morning.

“To get heard you must make a lot of noise that they can’t ignore.”

Parish, district and county councillor Charlie Hotham told Alvechurch Parish Council: “It is really important that everyone responds to the consultation.”

He said Alvechurch Library had been classed as a “fourth tier” library in the consultation, which meant the county was planning to make it a “community managed” library.

The features of these, according to the consultation, include the “community” paying for building costs and management and volunteers to run them.

Coun Hotham said Alvechurch library was “unique” because it was part of the private finance initiative (PFI) that paid for the new schools on the same site ten years ago.

“It is different to other libraries where the cost is manageable. The cost of the rent here is, I suspect, very high. I have asked for the breakdown of the building costs and the staff costs.”

He added: “If Worcestershire County Council does close the library, it will still be stuck with the cost of the PFI of the building. It wasn’t Alvechurch residents’ decision to be in the PFI, it was the decision of the county council.”

Coun Hotham said 300 people a week used the library for various groups and meetings as well as the traditional library users.

County councillor Kit Taylor said: “They are very well aware that the library is used as a community asset. The big question mark is the PFI, so I think there is going to be some head scratching.”

Parish chairman Andy Humphries, who suggested the library could be used by Alvechurch Post Office, said: “We have time to generate ideas and campaigns.”

The parish council has formed a working group to look at the best way forward for the library and to encourage people to take part in the consultation, which runs until the end of January.

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