New talks about the future of Church Stretton Library
Shropshire Council is working with community partners in Church Stretton to ensure a sustainable future for the town’s Library and Visitor Information Service.
Church Stretton Town Council and the Church Stretton Library Support Group are now in discussion with the Shropshire Council’s library service in an effort to work together to find the best solution for delivering these key services for the town.
During 2018 a ‘Community Right to Challenge’ process took place with regard to the library, and although good options for the service were put forward none of them met all the necessary criteria for operating the library and no viable alternatives were found. That formal process is now complete, paving the way for new talks to take place based on developing library and visitor information services in the existing library building in Church Street.
Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for culture and leisure, said:
“The last few years have seen much uncertainty surrounding Church Stretton Library so it’s great that we can now put all that behind us and start afresh. As with all Shropshire Council services, library service budgets remain under pressure but we know from experiences with other libraries across the county that creative and cost-effective ways forward can be found.”
Michael Braid, Mayor of Church Stretton Town Council, said:
“The services offered by the library and visitor information centre bring significant benefits not just to the town as a whole but to the surrounding areas as well, and we’re pleased that new discussions can now take place. We are keen to bring our ideas to the table, particularly with regard to the visitor information aspects and how they can be developed to improve the visitor experience in this popular tourist area.”
Sheila Davies from the Church Stretton Library Support Group, said:
“It is wonderful news that the library and visitor information centre, both important community resources, will be retained in the town centre. This follows four years of uncertainty.
“We plan to assist by becoming a ‘Friends of Church Stretton Library’ charity to raise funds for the library and enhance its services. We will need support from the wider community if this is to be successful.”
Although none of the earlier proposals for the library were considered to be viable, much of the community feedback received will be useful in informing the new discussions over the coming weeks. These are likely to focus on how the Library and visitor services are funded, whether the existing opening hours suit what is required, and how the community can be more involved in the services that are offered.