LIBRARIES are “safe in our hands” Wirral Council’s leader has pledged – and his party had learned its lesson after a failed attempt to modernise the service two years ago.
Councillor Steve Foulkes also said there will be no library closures “in the foreseeable future” although they would need to modernise.
Wirral is currently developing a library strategy following a report commissioned and paid for by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).
This strategy will look at developing libraries’ potential as “customer access points”, with a view to co-locating them with Wirral’s One Stop Shop facilities.
In 2008, the then Labour/ Lib Dem administration had sought to cut back the number of libraries as part of a modernisation plan to invest in new “hubs” across the borough offering a range of council services.
However, the public reaction, followed by an inquiry ordered by the Government, slammed the proposed closure of half the 24 libraries and the plan was dropped.
During a meeting of the council’s ruling cabinet, Cllr Foulkes said: “This is clearly a subject very dear to my heart – and the scars on my back.”
He said: “The vision we put forward to the public was rejected and I accept that. The vision was to have hubs with fantastic facilities.”
He said the report by the MLA also saw the value in co-locating services with libraries, but pointed out the funding which had been available under their previous plan is no longer there.