The decision follows recommendations made by the Libraries Working Group, set up to define a sustainable future for libraries in the borough. It means all 11 of the borough’s libraries will remain open for the foreseeable future.
The council will back up the plans with £1m of capital investment to support a planned programme of repairs, maintenance and refurbishment, identified from individual library cases.
This investment will support the work of the council and LiveWire to maximise resources by working with external partners at a number of libraries to create ‘mini hubs’, with integrated services focusing on learning, wellbeing and community.
The council is also committing an investment of £150,000 in 2018 to enhance the book budget. LiveWire will be investing an additional £50,000 on new books each year.
Robust business cases will now be developed for each library, overseen by a new Libraries Partnership Group, made up of representatives from the council, LiveWire, the third sector and Friends of Libraries groups. This group will be tasked with delivering a new partnership strategy and establishing a new set of performance measures.
Additionally, a new library will open shortly as part of the Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub development.
Warrington Borough Council’s executive board member for leisure and community, Cllr Tony Higgins, welcomed the decision. He said: “It was never our intention to close libraries in Warrington, so I’m delighted these plans have been approved.
“I promised we would listen to the views of local people, and this has been a true collaborative approach. We have held constructive dialogue with residents and campaigners, and our Libraries Working Group has worked with a range of partners to deliver a new vision, which I hope will protect and enhance our libraries service for many years to come.”
Professor Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of Warrington Borough Council and Chair of the Libraries Working Group, said: “The decision of the executive board paves the way to the delivery of a sustainable future for Warrington’s libraries, backed by £1m of council capital investment in our library buildings, and a significant investment in books.
“Our Libraries Partnership Group will now be working together to make these plans a reality.”
Emma Hutchinson, managing director of LiveWire, added: “LiveWire never wanted to close libraries, but due to increasing financial pressures, we had to look at delivering services differently.
“The last 12 months have provided a fantastic opportunity for LiveWire to build relationships with external partners, with a view to generating income to try to sustain libraries.
“The Libraries Working Group should be commended for their hard work and dedication in further developing these relationships and putting in place robust business cases.
“I now look forward to working with the new Libraries Partnership Group and driving forward these recommendations.”