HAGLEY residents voted unanimously to protect the future of their library at a meeting this week, as a consultation period on the future of Worcestershire's libraries nears its conclusion.

Hagley Parish Council put forward a motion calling for Worcestershire County Council to protect funding for a permanent, full-time member of staff and for funds to maintain the service. It also called for Hagley Parish Council to be able to ask for a rise in their precept to fund this should there be a shortfall from county council funding.

The meeting on February 13 came as Worcestershire County Council looks to make £800,000 of cuts to its library budget over the next two years.

A representative from the county council assured the meeting that no firm decision has been made yet about the future of Hagley library, and options to keep libraries open, such as by relying on volunteers, are being considered.

This is the third round of cuts Hagley library has faced. Three years ago, Hagley Parish Council took over the running costs and maintenance of the building after funding cuts were made, and then later plugged the funding gap to ensure opening hours were not reduced after another round of county council cut backs.

Councillor Jim Austin, the parish council lead for libraries, said: "Libraries are not just a book lending service, the library is part of the infrastructure of the community."

He assured the meeting that any future rise in the precept to help fund a permanent member of staff would be a matter of 'pence'.

Hagley Parish Councillor Mark Fenton explained how the motion would secure the future sustainability of the library, amid concerns that possible county council cuts could result in ‘community managed’ libraries run solely by volunteers.

Parish councillors expressed their concern with this model surrounding lone working; the need for access to county council staff and opening hours.

Speaking after the meeting, parish councillor Steve Colella said he was pleased with the ‘fantastic’ turnout at the meeting and that the parish councillor and residents have a ‘shared vision’.

He said: “We tried to make the point that it’s got to be sustainable in the long term.

“The parish council can only see more of the same from the county council and Bromsgrove District Council with more cuts in the years to come.”

The proposal, which was put to the meetings as a matter of principle, was voted through.

The county council’s consultation ends on February 28 and formal proposals will be put to the Worcestershire County Council cabinet in June.