Wirral Council name the 11 libraries under threat of closure due to £27m budget black hole

It is not just libraries that are threatened by the council’s cuts plans.

Eleven libraries in Wirral are facing closure as the council looks to save £27 million to escape a budget black hole.

In papers released by Wirral Council, the libraries most likely to close have been revealed.

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The local authority has put forward three ways it could save money from closing libraries, but ‘Option 3’ is the one being recommended to councillors.

This involves closing 11 of Wirral’s 24 libraries, while keeping five of the remaining 13 open but unstaffed, in a so-called ‘self service’ model.

Option 3 will see just eight libraries staying open with staff remaining, saving the council £814,365.

The eight staffed libraries are:

  • Birkenhead Central
  • West Kirby
  • Wallasey Central
  • Bebington Central
  • Eastham
  • Moreton
  • Upton
  • Heswall

They five unstaffed libraries are:

  • Leasowe (sharing with the Millennium Centre)
  • Beechwood (shared with a ‘community asset’)
  • Ridgeway (to be located in an identified school area)
  • St James (sharing with the St James Centre)
  • Seacombe (sharing with the Seacombe Children’s Centre)

The five unstaffed libraries will share their space with another organisation.

Irby Library is one of the 11 set to be closed.

The 11 libraries set to close are:

  • Bromborough
  • Greasby
  • Higher Bebington
  • Hoylake
  • Irby
  • New Ferry
  • Pensby
  • Prenton
  • Rock Ferry
  • Wallasey Village
  • Woodchurch

Wirral Council gave a justification for this plan in papers published for next week’s meeting of the tourism and leisure committee, which will consider the three options on libraries.

The document said: “The Library Strategy and preferred option [Option 3] strives to provide a balanced, modern, and fit for purpose Library Service in Wirral which will ensure that all residents have access to a comprehensive and efficient service.”

It added: “Most importantly, the preferred option will not disadvantage any one or more area of the borough, ensuring that everyone has access to the library service they need, when they need it.”

Alternative measures available

There are two other options to be considered by next week’s meeting.

They involve the closure of even more libraries, but they are not the council’s preferred option and the committee is not being advised to accept them.

It is not just libraries that are threatened by the council’s cuts plans.

Other public services under threat

Proposals revealed last week show the authority is considering closing Woodchurch Leisure Centre, two public golf courses and nine public toilets, among other services.

However, the proposals still have to go through several committees and are not set in stone yet.

What’s been said

Speaking last week, after the council revealed the plans, Cllr Janette Williamson, the Labour leader of Wirral Council, said: “In Wirral we have worked hard to protect those services which we know people value – and we will continue to do so.

“But we have now reached a point where we also must accept the authority cannot continue to try to deliver the same services that it was funded to provide a decade ago.

“Put simply we have substantially less money coming into the council and must find a way to deliver the services people want and need, but to do so within our means.

“And although this will be hugely challenging, we are determined to deliver those much-needed services in the best way we can. We will re-boot the council’s approach to how it delivers those services to focus on those which will best benefit the people of Wirral.”