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A Working Group with responsibility for defining a new libraries and community learning strategy for Warrington, and for considering future options for library service provision, is to be considered by councillors.
The move comes as a result of significant public feedback during the council’s recent consultation on the future of the library service.
The consultation, which was run by Livewire on behalf of the council, generated significant community response.
Portfolio holder for culture and leisure, Councillor Tony Higgins said: “We have listened carefully to public feedback and the overwhelming majority of respondents do not want libraries to close. We cannot ignore this and we will not be progressing with most of the original proposals as a result. However, doing nothing is not an option and we must be realistic about securing a sustainable future for our libraries within the limited resources that we have.
“As a result of government funding cuts, the council’s budget has already reduced by more than £92m since 2010 and we still have more than £40m of reductions to make. No one wants to make cuts to services, but the reality is that you can’t take away more than a third of the council’s budget and expect there to be no impact.
“At this stage I am pleased to confirm that, subject to the agreement of the executive board, the original proposals will not go ahead in full, but a number of suggestions that were put forward during the consultation process will be explored as part of the next stage of the review.
“This includes options relating to community asset transfer, developing community learning hubs and increasing commercial subsidy to offset the need for cuts. Livewire have also made a number of recommendations to us that we will carefully consider but cannot rule in, or out, at this stage. This includes potential investment in library buildings and community facilities.
“Throughout this process I have said that the council will listen to local people and that is what we have done. I am grateful to everyone who has contributed their views during the consultation process and I now want to ensure that we work with our communities and with Livewire to achieve the very best library service that we can within the funding constraints that we face.”