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Atherton mums are angry over the effect of library changes on young readers
10:20am Thursday 21st March 2013 in News
ANGRY mums are upset that changes to library opening hours mean it's the end of Wednesday morning 'storytots' sessions at Atherton Library.
But Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust which manages Wigan's library service says it is working with them to find an alternative slot for the sessions.
Michelle Stringfellow of Ling Drive, Atherton said for the past year she has taken her son, Thomas, now aged two-and-a-half years old, to the reading group for under fives held on Wednesday mornings.
"Last week we were told it will be no more as they are changing the time of opening for the library," said Michelle.
"Where was the consultation? Not one of us parents were spoken to in regards to this change. We have been advised there are sessions in Tyldesley and Leigh we can attend but that is a bus ride away for the people of Atherton.
"I wouldn't mind if this service wasn't used but every week on average there are 17 children taking part, some weeks I have had to sit at the back because it was so full. It is no extra cost to the Council because it is a volunteer who takes sessions. It's a valuable facility encouraging children to read at a vital stage in their lives."
Mrs Stringfellow said she and other mums and children who attended the library reading sessions would continue to attend mother and toddler group book gatherings at Alma Street Independent Methodist Church in Atherton.
A spokesperson for WLCT said: "Our library service delivers in excess of 5,000 events and activities each year - the majority of which are free. Although library opening hours are changing we will continue to deliver a varied and wide programme of events for library users in future. We are working with this group to find an alternative time and date to hold this Under 5s reading session.
"WLCT's contract to manage leisure and cultural services, on behalf of Wigan Council, has reduced by £4.6m in the last two years. In 2012/13 it will be reduced by a further £1.8m to £10m per annum.
"However this has not resulted in large numbers of library closures as in other areas.
"Pioneering work undertaken as part of the "Next Chapter" - which includes co-locating services in library buildings, re-locating libraries, introducing self-service and aligning opening hours to match customer demand has contributed more than £1.4m to the £76m Wigan Council are required to make in savings by central government by 2015 (£43m of which have already been achieved) - is a practical solution to meeting the financial challenges faced by the local authority whilst retaining a quality service for the people of the borough."