Hope for some in fight to keep Warwickshire libraries open

CUTS in opening hours at some Warwickshire libraries may be reduced - and a bid has been made to end computer charges in those that remain.

But some village libraries will close in March next year and must now look for new ways to stay open.

Warwickshire County Council’s cabinet committee last week voted to approve cuts to library service following public consultation over the summer.

A report to the cabinet included a bid to remove charges for computer use, which has led to a fall in use.

For some, including Whitnash, Kenilworth and Lillington, opening times may be alleviated because they are ‘one stop shops’ for all council serices.

County councillor Bernard Kirton (Ind, Whitnash) told Whitnash Town Council a decision would be deferred until after negotiations with Warwick District Council.

He said: “The county council has invested quite a lot of money in Whitnash library. It would be a gross waste of taxpayers’ money not to have that investment well used.

“Common sense has prevailed and I’m hopeful the outcome will be that they negotiate to maintain reasonable hours. It was bad enough to restrict it to 25 hours but to even contemplate cutting to 15 hours is tantamount to closure.”

The town council is based at the Franklin Road library. Cllr Brian Smart (Ind, Whitnash East) demanded to know why it was never consulted. He said: “It shows gross arrogance and disregard.”

Officials reported “disappointing” numbers of volunteers, with numbers varying between areas. Whitnash had only six potential volunteers compared with 17 in both Leamington and Warwick, nine in Lillington and ten in Kenilworth.

Cllr Siobhan Mulherin (Ind, Whitnash West) called on the town council to be “more proactive” in protecting the library. She suggested a coffee shop franchise to attract users.

Cllr Andre Davis (Ind, Whitnash West) suggested setting up a Friends Group of schools, book clubs and groups such as the Women’s Institute.

Will there be a sequel for village libraries?

• Opening times will be cut at all libraries. New hours will be set after public consultation.

• Harbury and Kineton libraries will close as council-run libraries in March 2012.

• Harbury Library Steering Group will receive an £8,000 grant from the county council towards keeping the premises running. It hopes to open a community cafe to contribute to running costs.

• Kineton parish council plans to open the library at Kineton village hall for at least eight hours a week, paying up to £3,300 from April 2012.