Sheffield libraries may be saved by public health funds

Walkley Library, Sheffield Walkley Library is one of Sheffield's facilities that the council had earmarked for closure

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Ten libraries in Sheffield that were under threat of closure may be saved by a plan to hand control over to community groups.

Voluntary organisations will be able to bid for a share of £262,000 of council funding, if proposals are approved.

The council said the cash could come from public health funds because having a nearby library improved well-being.

The proposal comes after a consultation was started over plans to close several of the city's 28 libraries.

Last year the authority announced it would keep 12 of the libraries open, including Sheffield Central Library, while Tinsley would remain council-run for the next two years, and a further five would be given money to be run by volunteers.

'Huge bill'

News that the remaining libraries would probably close prompted thousands of objections.

The idea to make cash available to community groups was unveiled following the end of a consultation where people were urged to come forward and put a business plan together to run the threatened libraries.

The authority said, as a result of the process, people had identified they needed help to pay for the running of the premises.

The £262,000 would be available each year for three years and would help organisations pay for utility bills.

The council said the funding had not come from library services - because there was no cash available - but had been identified in public health coffers.

Bob Mynors, who is part of a group hoping to run Stannington Library, said: "Having funding to run this would be an enormous weight off our shoulders.

"The last thing we would want to face is a huge utility bill just months after taking over the reins."

If the plans are agreed at a cabinet meeting on 19 February, the council will work with community groups to finalise business plans by June.

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