Page last updated at 12:35 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Council plans to close libraries

Thirteen libraries and a number of sports centres in Wirral have been earmarked for closure as part of an overhaul of council buildings.

Birkenhead's Central Library is on the list of properties which Wirral Borough Council want to shut to make savings to reinvest 20m in other existing sites.

Woodchurch and Guinea Gap leisure centres and Pacific Road Theatre have also been recommended for closure.

Council leader Steve Foulkes said the aim is "better but fewer" buildings.

Community resources

The plan is to invest 20m over the next four years into a range of multi-purpose complexes which could house a number of agencies such as police and health services.

Mr Foulkes added: "Doing nothing was never an option. If we leave things as they are we will be left with crumbling buildings, mounting repair costs and escalating levels of council tax."

Other libraries on the closure list are Hoylake, Pensby, Irby, Upton, Seacombe, Wallasey Village, Bromborough, Higher Bebington, New Ferry, Beechwood, Prenton and Ridgeway.

"Change is never easy and we understand that people can become attached to the buildings that they use and which are familiar to them.

"These proposals are rightly radical and comprehensive and will have implications to residents across the borough, not to mention our own staff," added Mr Foulkes.

But the council said if the closures were approved areas would not lose community resources, and Birkenhead Library would be incorporated into plans for a reference library in the town centre.

The library, on Borough Road, was opened in 1934 and was the country's first public library.

A decision will be made on the closure at a council meeting on Thursday.

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