All of Sheffield’s libraries could stay open - as a proposed £262,000 funding proposal is revealed today.
The money would be available to help community groups implement business plans to independently run 10 libraries including Broomhill, Upperthorpe, Greenhill, Tinsley, Jordanthorpe, Ecclesfield, Stannington, Frecheville, Totley, Gleadless and Walkley.
Sheffield Council today said each of those libraries now had a business plan outlining how it could be run by volunteers - but that they had called for funding to help.
Groups would be able to ‘bid’ for money - to help pay for running costs such as heating and lighting, volunteer training and IT security - for up to three years. The money would come from public health funds.
The plans are to be decided at a council cabinet meeting next Wednesday February 19.
Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for communities and inclusion, said: “It is of course something I am delighted to be able to announce today – that we can help to secure the future of all the city’s libraries with this funding proposal.
“And it is great news that business plans have been submitted by volunteer groups to run all the independent libraries.
“As I have said many times before, we want to keep as many libraries open as possible.
“The savings we have to make are a result of harsh Government cuts which are placing a heavy burden on northern cities such as Sheffield. Now there should be no reason for libraries not to be run as was proposed.”
More than 7,000 people took part in consultation on the controversial closure of libraries. Many protests were made and petitions handed over to the council.
Coun Iqbal added: “Often people say consultation is just a tick-box exercise which councils have to do before pressing ahead with a decision they reached months ago. Today’s outcome should prove to all those who doubted the process of democracy that we are a council that listens and acts on what people say they need.
“We are now recommending this extra investment to give community groups the chance to make a success of the independent libraries they will run.”
Another 12 sites will remain open as ‘key’ libraries and five will be community-led and receive council funding for two years.
Tinsley library will remain a council library for the next two years.
If the proposals are agreed by cabinet, the council will work with community groups to finalise their business plans by the summer.
See tomorrow’s Star for more on this story.