library - Nantwich Library (Google)

Nantwich Town councillors have agreed to pay £22,000 to keep the town’s library open for an extra half day.

But a debate at last night’s town council meeting descended into a political row over the issue.

Cheshire East Council is cutting the opening hours of its libraries to save costs amid a £20 million gap in its budget.

Nantwich library faces closing for half a day on Friday as well as only opening at 10am each morning, rather than 9am.

Cllr Anna Burton has led the campaign for the town council to step in and plug the funding gap to keep it open all day on Friday.

Cllr Burton said: “Books are a key to lifelong learning and literacy, but our libraries provide so much more.

“Libraries are community centres, on the front-line helping people in crisis, to get back on their feet, get a job, go digital, stay warm and fight loneliness.

“Closing the library for a day and a half would have had a disproportionate impact on the vulnerable, elderly and young mostly.

“Nantwich is one of five libraries based in the less wealthy south of the borough offering a lifeline to people already hit hard by Government cuts. We need to try to protect them.”

Independent Cllr Arthur Moran backed the move but issued a warning that the town council could face further calls to fund other Cheshire East Council services in the future.

Conservative Cllr Peter Groves agreed, describing the move as the “thin end of the wedge”.

He added: “I have concerns where we are going with this. Of course libraries and museums are very important parts of our community, but where are we going next?

“We’ve had talks about police station helpdesk and making a contribution to that? And the Foodbank? And Highways? Bus Services?

“We need to send a strong message to Cheshire East Council on this. We have to be very careful going forward.”

But Labour councillors on the town council hit back, saying the message should be sent to Tory MP Kieran Mullan and the Conservative Government over the funding cuts to local authorities.

Cllr Loic Charbonneau said: “It’s fantastic that we can support the library, but the ‘thin wedge’ is from central Government not from Cheshire East, and we should prepare a letter to our MP.

“The other element is the precept. Nantwich has the highest in Cheshire East, but many users of the library come from parishes around Nantwich with lower precepts and taxes.”

Fellow Labour Cllr John Priest added: “The Government is forcing these choices on local councils and this has to be noted. Our MP has been silent on this issue.”

Cllr Riddell Graham, also Labour, made a second proposal to fund the library for half a day but to also write to MP Kieran Mullan.

But councillors eventually passed Cllr Burton’s initial proposal of funding the half day going forward by seven votes to four.

The changes to library opening hours are set to take place from December 1, 2023.

Town councillors agreed to explore when the library is most needed to see if it should open longer on Saturdays if these are busier than certain weekday times.

coffee morning at Nantwich Library
coffee morning at Nantwich Library
Twins and mum in Nantwich library
Twins and mum in Nantwich library

One Comment

  1. This is double taxation.
    Nantwich residents pay a Council Tax to Labour run Cheshire East to fund a proper library service.
    Now Nantwich residents are paying through their Town Council Tax for Labour’s library cuts to be re-instated.
    This is wrong & shouldn’t be allowed.
    It is a rip off.

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