Sheffield library plans to be decided

Walkley library.
Walkley library.

Business plans drawn up to take over the running of Sheffield libraries are set to be discussed early next week.

An assessment panel of officers and experts will meet to look at the proposals for libraries which were controversially relinquished from Sheffield Council’s control earlier this year.

The meeting was initially scheduled for two days ago, after plans were submitted last week. However, that was delayed by the public sector strike that saw thousands take to the streets.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, council cabinet member for communities, said he hoped the plans could be approved ‘within a fortnight’.

However, he warned officers may need to go back to the groups for additional information, rather than making a final decision there and then.

He said: “The panel is meeting early next week.

“It is not as simple as making a decision on the day.

“What I have realised is we may need to go back and ask questions – it might be on technical information that could support the business plan – and so we must do that.

“Some groups are probably itching to start on October 1, so it depends on their business plan – we need to do whatever we can to help.”

Councillors will not sit on the panel, but it includes a representative from Creative Sheffield, the city’s inward investment agency.

Coun Iqbal said: “I don’t think it is appropriate for me to be involved and for councillors who have been involved with the campaigns for their libraries it would be unfair.”

It is thought business plans have been submitted for every library that was relinquished.

Two were being prepared for Walkley Library, from the community and The Forum Group, which runs several independent bars in the city.

Efforts have been made to see the two work together in the library.

Chris Reece, of Walkley Community Libraries Futures Group, said: “All the group is wanting to find out what is happening as soon as possible really.

“All we can do is wait and see what we hear from the council.”