Cabinet to discuss future of four South Tyneside libraries
Four libraries could be saved from closure after groups have stepped forward to take over the running of the buildings.
The future of Boldon lane, Primrose, East Boldon and Whitburn were all left hanging in the balance after council chiefs announced, earlier this year, funding for them would be pulled in December.
The move is part of a wide-range of cost-cutting measures being brought in by the council in a bid to save cash due to government cutbacks in financial support.
Petitions were launched and a plea was made for voluntary groups to step forward to take them over in a last ditch attempt to stop them from being closed.
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Now, following an extensive consultation which took place between June and September, the council is working with four community organisations who have stepped forward to take over the running of the branch libraries.
If the takeovers are agreed at Cabinet next week, the council will look to enter into long-term arrangements for the libraries which will see Action Stations running Boldon Lane Library; Friends of East Boldon Library taking on East Boldon Library; Perth Green CA looking after Primrose Library and Friends of Whitburn Library taking over Whitburn Library.
Coun Alan Kerr, lead member for culture and leisure said “Communities across South Tyneside have come forward to work in partnership with us to protect our libraries. I am delighted at the response we have had and I am confident that the borough’s community libraries are viable in the long term.
“The public sector as a whole faces unprecedented financial challenges. At South Tyneside, our core government funding has been reduced by almost 50 per cent since 2010. By working hand in hand with the people of the borough we have been able to find a resolution which should provide a comprehensive sustainable service going forward.”
National published data has revealed a significant increase in the number of libraries are now being run by the community, increasing from 109 in 2012/13 to 307 in 2015/16.
Coun Nancy Maxwell, lead member for voluntary sector partnerships and co-operatives said: “Against a background of reducing financial support from central government, we have tried all routes to keep community libraries open and we believe we have now found a solution.
“The people of South Tyneside have stepped up to the challenge - by thinking creatively and working more collaboratively we can meet the challenges we face together.”
The council will continue to deliver library services from four modern multi-service ‘hubs’ which are fit for purpose and digitally enabled at: The Word, (National Centre for the Written Word); Hebburn Central; Jarrow Hub and Cleadon Park.
South Tyneside Council’s Cabinet will meet to discuss the proposals at South Shields Town Hall on Wednesday December 13 at 4pm.