Valerie Vaz MP has written to the Chief Executive of Walsall MBC and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock MP, on library closures in Walsall South.

Valerie Vaz MP said:

“I opposed Walsall MBC’s closure of Pheasey, Pleck and South Walsall libraries last year. Despite these closures, Walsall Central Library is now closed and will be for the next 10 months whilst refurbishment work is being carried out. I am concerned that an important resource is being lost.”

“The Council has a statutory duty under the provisions of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to ‘provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof’. I have written to the Chief Executive of Walsall MBC and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport because I do not consider that the requirements of the Act are being met in Walsall South.”

“Darlaston Library is simply too far for my constituents in Palfrey, Pheasey and Pleck. Many children go to libraries to do their homework as they may not have the resources to do so at home. In my letter to Walsall MBC, I asked what assessments were carried out before the closure of Walsall Central Library on the impact on children’s access to a library in Walsall South, and whether the Council has fulfilled its statutory obligations under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.”

“I understand that Walsall MBC is providing a temporary replacement library service from Monday 5 February 2018 within the Walsall Council Building. Walsall district libraries will also be increasing their opening hours by 3 hours per week and opening for the first time on Sundays. These new opening hours will apply to the temporary replacement library on Lichfield Street, but despite these changes, the library will still only offer a reduced service.”

“I suggested to the Chief Executive that whilst Walsall Central Library is being refurbished, a previously closed library should reopen so that children and adults can still have full access to library services.”

“I raised with the Secretary of State that it is not just favourable for my constituents to have full access to a library, but a necessity, and the Government has statutory duty to provide this. I welcome improvements to libraries but I am astonished that my constituents will be left without full access to a library for up to a year.”