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Wash Common library set to close at the end of the month

Library was third most expensive to run says West Berkshire Council

USERS of Wash Common library have until the end of the month to borrow and return books to the service before it is shut down by West Berkshire Council.

The library will be closed as of Friday March 31 as part of the council's cost-cutting measures in a bid to save £580,000 a year.

After that, any books to be returned will need to be taken to one of the other eight branch libraries across the district or the mobile library.

According to the council the small branch library was the third most expensive to run per visit and the home library of less than three per cent of active borrowers.

Speaking about the library Councillor Dominic Boeck, Executive Member for Culture said: “It’s sad to see Wash Common library close but it is a small branch, expensive to run and the home branch for only a few of our library users.

"At a time when we have to save money we simply couldn’t afford to keep it open when we have our largest library up the road in Newbury.

"It will help us keep open our eight other libraries and continue to offer a mobile and at-home service and ensure that we continue to provide a good library service in West Berkshire."

Even though the library will no longer be funded by West Berkshire Council there is still hope the service may be able to continue with the help of community volunteers.

As reported in the Newbury Weekly News last month the volunteer group, led by West Berkshire and Newbury Town councillors for the Falkland ward, is hoping to take over the running of the library if another source of funding can be secured.

Speaking to the NWN in February councillor Adrian Edwards said an agreement was in place in principle to allow the community to take over the running of the building, with more than 60 volunteers willing to help, including former librarians.

He said funding was still being sought through community grants, adding: “If we’re not in a position to take it over by April, the building will be mothballed until we’re ready.

“It looks positive. We would need something in the kitty and I’d be happy to put something in there myself as a stop-gap, but we want to appoint a fundraising secretary in the long-term.”

As well as the closure of Wash Common library the cost cutting drive will also see the number of library staff reduced by almost half while the district’s mobile library service will also be reduced from two vehicles to one.

A new stop at Wash Common will be added to the mobile library route.

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