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Nantwich Library Campaign Opens New Chapter
A campaign to save Nantwich from the impacts of funding cuts, resulting in a massive response from the community, has resulted in a rethink.
Nantwich Councillor Anna Burton has led the call for the council to explore new ways of keeping the library open for at least five days a week.
“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,” she said.
Nantwich Library is currently open 6 days a week and all activities and all events are oversubscribed. The numbers using the library have recovered to pre-Covid levels.
Anna, who was only elected as a Nantwich Town and Cheshire East councillor in May, was determined to explore every possible option to minimise impacts for the town. She convened top level talks with council leaders and officers to explore more flexible and intelligent approaches to saving money.
“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 5 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,” she told the decision makers.
As a result the council is now proposing a half day closure by opening later or closing earlier for four days of the week, instead of closing for a full half day. Libraries that are well used could get extra opening hours.
Anna also proposed that Town and Parish Councils could help out, to deliver more added value. She has provided a hot line between Nantwich Town and Cheshire East Councils.
“There’s still work to do but by working together we are delivering the best possible outcome - protecting vital services while ensuring the council continues to balance the books,” she said.
“I want to see councils investing in their libraries rather than cutting them, but for over a decade Government has been choking off funding to councils. Meanwhile austerity has supercharged poverty and homelessness and increased demand for council services. And now inflation is devaluing everything we do.
“There’s just not enough money to deliver everything our communities need. We have continued to protect our libraries while other councils have closed them. But every year it gets more difficult,” she said.