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Just 40p a month will meet the shortfall, says Upton Town Council
RESIDENTS will be asked to dig into their own pockets to ensure their library remains open.
Concerned councillors in Upton upon Severn have come up with a plan for every household in the town and surrounding areas to pay a monthly council tax supplement to keep the prized facility going.
They say they have been told by Worcestershire County Council that the library needs to find annual savings of £25,000.
Mayor Peter Webb fears the library could close as soon as April if the town’s book lovers do not take action.
They will ask every household in Upton and six surrounding parishes to pay a monthly council tax supplement of 40p for the next five years to guarantee the library’s survival over that period. This would raise about £15,000 a year, with councillors confident the additional £10,000 savings required can be achieved by using more volunteers.
The proposal will now be put to neighbouring councils while Upton residents will receive a knock on their door asking if they support the plan.
This will happen immediately, with concerns mounting over the imminent threat to the library and the fact parishes are already finalising council tax demands for the year ahead.
Councillor Simon Yates said he felt councillors had been “kept in the dark” over the extent of the threat to the library.
“Some of us said a year-and-a-half ago we needed to go to the public but that never happened and now we have to do it in three weeks,” he said.
“To get them involved at this late stage might be tricky but I think it is do-able and I think this is a very good option to find another way to pay for the library.”
Coun Webb said there had been reassurances over the future of the library but the extent of the threat had been revealed recently.
“We have still not been told in clear terms what will happen to the library if we do nothing, but I do not believe that is an option,” he said.
Kathy Kirk, strategic libraries and learning manager at the county council, said: ”We are trying to avoid closing libraries and are working with councils across the county. In Upton, we are working with the town council to explore options which will reduce running costs.”
Other parishes which will be asked to consider paying to keep the library open are Hanley Castle, Hill Croome, Earls Croome, Ripple, Severn Stoke and Croome D’Abitot and Longdon, Holdfast and Queenhill.
Upton town clerk Jo Adams warned the library’s future could rely on their support.
“Upton cannot afford to do this on its own,” she said.
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