Funding to be pulled from four community libraries which could close before end of year

Whitburn Library.
Whitburn Library.
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The future of four branch libraries in South Tyneside hangs in the balance - as residents are warned to step up or lose them forever.

Whitburn, East Boldon, Boldon Lane and Primrose libraries have all been left hanging in the balance after cash-strapped council chiefs announced funding will be pulled in December.

Primrose Library

Primrose Library

That is, unless voluntary groups are found to take over the running of the buildings by the time reports are submitted to the council’s cabinet in November.

A consultation is currently underway in a bid to find the best way forward, however, operations director for the council Mike Conlon says unless people are found to take over the running of them, they will close.

In a report delivered to the West Shields, Cleadon and Whitburn Community Area Forum, Mr Conlon said due to lack of funds, the council will instead be focusing on its four multi-purpose hubs - The Word in South Shields, Hebburn Central, Jarrow Hub and Cleadon Park.

He said: “If we can’t get the community to step forward, we will have to close the libraries.

East Boldon Library

East Boldon Library

“The consultation will finish in August with a report to cabinet in November.

“If there is no interest the funding will be removed at the end of December this year.”

He said a number of social enterprises have come forward to offer an expression of interest, there have also been a number of volunteers.

Concerns were raised over the potential closure of East Boldon library which is used by pupils at West Boldon Primary School each week.

Boldon Lane Library

Boldon Lane Library

However, Mr Conlon added: “If the community don’t come forward then we will have to talk to the school.”

The council have recently handed over the running of community centres to community groups as part of an asset transfer programme. It is hoped the same will be able to be done with the branch libraries.

The consultation will run until the end of August.

Comments on the proposals can be emailed to libraryconsultation@southtyneside.gov.uk or residents can complete an online questionnaire at their local library.