Berkshire

£1.4m fund halts some West Berkshire library closures

Theale Library Image copyright Google
Image caption Theale, above, and Wash Common Library are the two facilities that could close under current proposals, but seven others in West Berkshire will remain open for two years

Seven libraries and a mobile unit will be saved from closure as part of £1.4m "transitional funding" for public services in West Berkshire.

Councillors announced the plans after threats to cut eight library services in the district in February.

Libraries will receive £475,000 funding over two years, but will transition to a self-service system to save money.

Other services to receive money include bus routes, children's centres and the Newbury Corn Exchange.

'Vital part of culture'

West Berkshire Council said nearly half the comments received about the funding were about keeping libraries open.

Council leader Roger Croft said he was "pleased" the district could offer a "lifeline" to public services, but funding will only be provided for two years.

He added: "We need to be clear however that this money is a lifeline which will enable these services to move to a more sustainable funding model. In particular, it will allow us to work with partners, community groups and parishes to secure these services in the long term."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Author of The Ghost Writer and campaigner Robert Harris said: "I just think it's a vital part of our culture, books are the foundation of everything, and it's incredibly important for libraries to remain open"

Hungerford-based author Robert Harris said he was "delighted" by the announcement but added libraries may need to become "more community run" to ensure they remain open.

He added: "Ours can't be the generation to let libraries go, and I would be ashamed to be part of that generation."

The plans for funding will be confirmed at a council meeting on 24 March.

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