A PROPOSAL to save a Stockton-on-Tees library from closure will be considered by councillors next week.
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is reviewing its library services as it faces up to a Government funding reduction of £73million a year by 2019/20.
The review included proposals to close Egglescliffe Library, and to close Fairfield Library if a partner or alternative host building could not be found.
But a new proposal to retain Fairfield Library by sharing the building with a nursery provider will now be considered by the Council’s Cabinet on Thursday (October 6).
Councillor Norma Wilburn, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, said: “We have carried out extensive consultation on these proposals and have listened carefully to the hundreds of responses we’ve received.
“In my role as Cabinet Member I have also met with local ward councillors and officers to discuss any further options or potential solutions they may be aware of so we can explore them further.
“I'm delighted to say that we received a suggestion from Councillor Carol Clark that Fairfield Library could be co-located with a nursery provider as the Borough, and Fairfield in particular, has a shortage of nursery places and that demand is growing.
“We’ve said from the outset that co-location is our preferred option for Fairfield but up to that point we hadn’t identified a viable co-location option. This option would involve adapting the building to accommodate a nursery and a smaller library.
“We have already seen a similar combination of services working well at Redhill Children’s Centres in Roseworth, and Riverbank Children’s Centre in Thornaby. I will be recommending that Cabinet agree this proposal, which also shows that when we ask local people for their views, we do listen.”
Cabinet members will also be recommended to approve a proposal to close Egglescliffe Library, now that the refurbishment of nearby Yarm Library is complete.
Councillor Wilburn said: “While some councils have responded to Government cuts by abandoning library services, we’ve stood by the strategy we agreed in 2011 by investing in our six town centre libraries and co-locating smaller branches.
“We have done this because we are committed to maintaining the best possible service with the resources available, and we understand how much libraries are valued by our local communities.
“Unfortunately, the scale of the financial challenge we are facing leaves us with no choice but to propose changes.
“Though we would rather not be in a position where we have to propose the closure of Egglescliffe Library, it is a smaller building than Fairfield and less than a mile away from Yarm Library, where we’ve recently completed a £350,000 refurbishment.
“If the closure is agreed, we would also work with the nearby Egglescliffe Community Centre and look at providing an increased mobile library service in that area to minimise the impact.
“I’d like to thank everybody who has responded to the consultation, whether it be through the consultation questionnaire or the petitions we have received.”
The Council received a total of 537 paper and online responses to the consultation, and held daytime and evening drop-in sessions in the Egglescliffe and Fairfield branches.
A 3,217 name petition protesting at the possible closure of Fairfield was also received, as well as a 659 name petition protesting at the possible closure of Egglescliffe.