Wirral council consults on library plans

Image caption, Councillors are proposing four main libraries for Wirral

Wirral Council is holding a public consultation on the future of the borough's 24 libraries, following the dropping of plans to close almost half of them.

The proposals include integrating many library services and staff with the council's One Stop Shops.

Evening opening will be concentrated at four main libraries.

In 2009, plans to close 11 libraries were withdrawn after criticism from a government-appointed inspector.

Following a public outcry over the proposals the then culture secretary Andy Burnham asked Sue Charteris, a public policy consultant, to write a report on the council's library closure plans.

She said she was "profoundly concerned at the lack of transparency" in the process.

The new Wirral Library Service Strategy reveals that, while nationally library visits and book lending has fallen, in Wirral there has been little change in visitor numbers and book issues have increased.

Birkenhead, Wallasey, Bebington and West Kirby will become Wirral's four main libraries and cafes will be opened in libraries where there is space and demand.

The council has said there are no plans to close any libraries.

Chris Meaden, cabinet member for culture, tourism and leisure at Labour-controlled Wirral Council, said the changes "would only be successful if they meet the needs of the people who use the service".

The consultation runs until 29 February.

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