Inspector visits Wirral’s libraries ahead of inquiry next month

A GOVERNMENT-APPOINTED inspector will visit libraries across Wirral today and tomorrow.

Sue Charteris was appointed by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham to review Wirral Council’s controversial closure programme.

The authority wants to shut 11 of the borough’s 24 libraries as part of its Strategic Asset Review of cultural and community buildings across the borough.

Since the announcement late last year communities across Wirral have campaigned vigorously against the closures.

Following the announcement of the inquiry – which is the first of its kind in 18 years – Wirral Council immediately halted the closures plans pending the outcome of the inspector’s report.

Yesterday, Ms Charteris met with politicians from across Wirral, following previous meetings with key figures from the borough’s political representatives.

Eastham councillors Phil Gilchrist, Tom Harney and Dave Mitchell are understood to have met with Ms Charteris earlier in the week, when they presented her with their document – entitled A Valuable Resource for a Vibrant Community, and calling for the Eastham library to be saved – to be taken into account by the inspector when making her recommendation to the Secretary of State.

Last night, following a meeting with the inspector, Leah Fraser, prospective Conservative MP for Wallasey and Moreton praised Ms Charteris, saying she was “a refreshing change from the ‘sham’ consultation we had from the council”.

Cllr Fraser said: “I stressed the importance of local libraries as places of learning, often serving communities and individuals who have no access to facilities elsewhere.

“There is no way that libraries such as Wallasey Village or Seacombe should be the price we pay for this council's incompetence.”

The formal inquiry will take place at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, on June 9 at 9:30am.

The timetable, from the DCMS, for the library visits today and tomorrow is: Prenton (9.00 - 10.00 am), Ridgeway (10.15 – 11.45 am) Woodchurch (12.10 – 13.00 pm), Irby (2.45 – 3.45 pm), Hoylake (4.00 – 5.00 pm).

Tomorrow, will start at Eastham (9.00 – 10.00 am), New Ferry (11.00 – 11.45 am), Higher Bebington (12.00 – 1.00 pm), Beechwood (2.00 – 3.00 pm), Seacombe (3.30 – 4.30 pm), Wallasey Village (4.45 – 5.45 pm).