MP for Warrington South David Mowat has cautiously welcomed LiveWire’s plans to close libraries in the town in favour of grouping them with other services.

But he raised concerns about the proposal to close libraries in places like Stockton Heath and Lymm where there is nowhere else to browse and borrow books.

In a public letter to Jan Souness, who is managing the libraries consultation for LiveWire, Mr Mowat said the plans would be particularly bad for residents south of the River Mersey.

He said: “It is unclear from the consultation document whether the new Hub at Broomfields would have opened before the existing facilities in Lymm and Stockton Heath had closed.

“The fact that Stockton Heath and Lymm Libraries are amongst the best-used in the borough suggests that this is the area where demand for library services are highest.”

He said Lymm in particular would be hit by the closure of its library and five miles is a ‘considerable distance’ to travel to browse the shelves.

But Mr Mowat praised LiveWire’s handling of the consultation and added that the plan to move the central library to Golden Square is ‘eminently sensible’.

He wrote: “Local Authorities, like all public sector bodies, are having to tighten their belts and money spent on libraries is money that cannot be spent on caring for the elderly, fixing the roads or any one of the dozens of services they are required to provide.

“I am delighted that LiveWire has eschewed the ‘salami-slice’ approach of cutting out-reach services, cutting hours and reducing investment in stock in favour of a genuine conversation about how library services should be delivered in the town.

“It would appear that LiveWire has made real efforts to find out not just what services its existing users value, but what obstacles non-users feel prevent them from accessing existing services.

“Moving the central library from its current location on Museum Street to a location on Golden Square is eminently sensible.

“Footfall past the entrance would be far higher and Golden Square has much better access to buses.

“Whilst the orginal central library was, in 1848, the first publicly-funded library in the country, I understand it moved from its original location more than 150 years ago so it would be difficult to oppose a further move on heritage grounds.”

LiveWire extended its consultation period for an extra 17 days, until October 21, to allow more people to get involved.

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