THERE's a certain sad irony that Warrington Library is to close for six months and temporarily relocate to a unit in Golden Square.

Cast your mind back to 2016 when Livewire, the organisation that runs the town’s libraries on behalf of Warrington Borough Council, came up with a ridiculed and discredited plan to close many of our libraries, replacing some of them with Amazon-style lending lockers. Others would have moved into leisure centre hubs, while the town’s central library would have been closed and relocated to a small retail unit in Golden Square.

The level of outrage from library users was palpable and sparked a hugely successful campaign to fight the plans.

So, the recent news that Warrington Library is to move into Golden Square must have sent a frisson of anxiety through all those people who campaigned so hard back in 2016-17. But worry not, we have the assurance from council chief executive Steven Broomhead that the move this year is indeed temporary and not a back-door way to resurrect the ill-fated 2016 plan.

He said: “While this essential, six-month project is carried out, Warrington Museum and Library’s services will be moving to a new, temporary home, in the former USC unit in Golden Square. This is a temporary move only, to give us the time we need to complete these improvements. When the work is finished, our museum and library will reopen as a sustainable, inclusive hive of learning, creativity, heritage and culture – ready to serve Warrington for generations to come.”

And it looks like Livewire is viewing the move with a certain degree of positivity with managing director Emma Hutchinson saying: “A temporary move would be a fantastic opportunity for us to bring our remarkable offer to the very heart of the Warrington community, and we look forward to welcoming in new and familiar faces alike.”

All good then. We have the assurance the move is only temporary, and not only that, it is a ‘fantastic opportunity’.

But, this does raise some questions.

I have made no secret of the fact I live in the west of the town so the library I am most familiar with is Penketh. I am given to understand that along with Padgate and Culcheth libraries, it is to get a facelift as part of the so-called ‘libraries modernisation programme’.

I don’t know what Padgate and Culcheth libraries are like but if you happen to find yourself in Penketh, just pause for a moment and have a look at the disgraceful state of the library building. It looks almost derelict and the simple truth is Warrington Borough Council has allowed this to happen.

Couple this with the news about Warrington Library and I can’t help but wonder whether a programme of planned maintenance over the past 20 or 30 years might have better served our town’s libraries.

According to WBC’s director of growth Steve Park: “We want to make sure that Warrington’s proud culture and heritage is a key driver of regeneration. That’s why it’s vital that we invest in and protect our cultural assets for the future.”

What a pity they didn’t invest in and protect our cultural assets in the past.

While I’m talking about the town’s assets, I’d like to mention a couple that really deserve some praise.

I was furloughed last week for the second time during the pandemic and was fortunate it coincided with a week of good weather. And the relaxation of the lockdown rules meant I could get out and about for the first time in what felt like ages.

We take these things for granted but Sankey Valley Park and Walton Gardens really are remarkable places (although I’m not too happy about having to pay to park at Walton).

To have such accessible open spaces for the people of Warrington is a blessing we should all be grateful for.