One year on from their pioneering pledge to improve the borough’s library service, Wigan Council has managed to save more than £1m. In April 2017, Wigan Council promised to go beyond its statutory duty to deliver a comprehensive and efficient library offer by integrating libraries with communities and customer facing services. And, despite austerity and funding cuts, the town hall has managed to keep all libraries open and has even improved the current offer by increasing opening times.
The most recent library to transform its services is Atherton, which will be re-located to Atherton town hall to merge with the life centre, which will allow residents to access council services in one place convenient for them. There will also be a café, access to health services such as smoking cessation and weight advice, along with community rooms, office accommodation and a dedicated space for a children’s library.
Lesley O’Halloran, assistant director for customer services said: “As part of The Deal we have been delivering services in a different way and a consultation carried out in 2016 showed support for our wider plan to look at how we can better provide services.
“Regarding Atherton, there have been recent concerns about the library operating on a click and collect basis. I want to reassure residents that this is not the case and books will be available on the shelves. “In addition, creating the Atherton hub will not only help us meet our savings target, but it shows our commitment to working with the community and listening to local people. More than 70 per cent of residents support the idea of a hub, meaning that we can provide support for those who need it rather than maintaining costly buildings.
“Putting resource into transforming our libraries protects library provision borough-wide, is an innovative response to the cuts we face and is very different to many other local authorities’ approach during these financially difficult times. “We will continue to look at where we can further integrate our services to enhance our offer and provide value for money.”
Residents will be able to speak to Wigan Council staff and partners for general help and advice and frontline workers from the council, health services and local police will be based there.
The building is expected to be operational in autumn 2018.