Tag: Ludlow library

Shropshire Council is being rather quiet about National Libraries Day. It issued a low profile press release two weeks ago and there are just four events running. It is perhaps not surprising that the council seems to be keeping its head below the parapet. Shropshire Council is predicting that library budgets will be reduced by a million pounds, with a one third cut from April 2017. Hours at the six largest hub libraries will be reduced and they may be run by new providers (the hub libraries are about to be reviewed). Some of the sixteen smaller libraries are at risk of closure. It is unlikely that the mobile libraries service will survive. The workforce is to be “redesigned” – a cruel phrase probably means redundancy.

At the end of last year, Shropshire Council proposed cutting the Ludlow Registrar service by eight hours a week. Bishop’s Castle would lose its service. Oswestry would get extra hours. Alternatively, these offices could close altogether.[1] Fortunately, the council has now come its senses on this very sensitive matter. Ludlow’s registrar office is to remain open for 16 hours a week, four fewer hours than now.[2] Given the scale of current cuts, I think we got a good deal for Ludlow (my objection to the original plans). But the process by which the decision was made shows just how far Shropshire Council has to travel before it becomes an open and effective democracy.

Very shortly, Shropshire Council will launch a review of the six hub libraries – Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Whitchurch, Market Drayton, Bridgnorth and Ludlow. I’ll write more about the review when I know more. But I do have a firm view on what the result of any review should be. We know we will have to work hard to sort out a future for the hub libraries in a time of local government austerity. But I don’t think it helps that we set to spend time looking at transferring these libraries to communities or local councils. The six hub libraries provide an integrated service that can’t easily be split up. I cannot see how we can retain that with more than one hub provider, not without creating a lot of bureaucracy to oversee any future arrangement.

Back to top