NEWPORT council has taken the formal decision to close Stow Hill library.

Cabinet member for leisure and culture Debbie Wilcox has pushed ahead with moving the service to Central Library, as well as plans to streamline the library service across the city.

But despite the move a public meeting is set to be held at the council on Wednesday, in the hope that the library can still be saved.

The move will also mean that St Julians and Pillgwenlly libraries will be unstaffed within community learning centres.

“The greatest challenge the service faces in Newport during the current economic climate is the provision of high quality library services to meet the requirements of the citizens of Newport,” a council document says.

Meanwhile Cllr Wilcox is considering whether to go ahead with a proposal, already agreed in the budget, to shut Underwood Leisure Centre.

The Argus first revealed that the authority was looking at shutting Stow Hill library back in January, together with Maindee library.

It was not originally part of a larger public consultation on budget cuts, but a consultation was launched and a decision was later taken to save the Maindee branch.

The council has argued that users of Stow Hill library will still be within two miles of a library, as set down in national guidelines.

Cllr Matthew Evans, Tory group leader from Allt-Yr-Yn ward, which covers the library, said many residents didn’t know about the move because it wasn’t part of the original consultation.

“There’s a lot of anger and resentment that a small wellutilised community facility is being shut for the sake of £13,000,” he said.

He said a public meeting was taking place at the civic centre on Wednesday at 7pm in the hope council minds can be changed.

Cllr Wilcox has also signed off on plans to change opening hours, with six libraries seeing them cut, but others extended.

The remaining 11 libraries will be categorised to give users clearer information about what they offer and when they are open.

Leisure centre also looks doomed

THE axe is hanging over Underwood leisure centre, with Cllr Wilcox now looking at a report proposing that she makes the final decision to close it.

The centre was proposed to be shut as part of the public consultation on the 2013/14 budget.

A report to Cllr Willcox says usage of the facility is low, with 15,271 physical-activity and room-booking visits during 2012.

Martyn Kellaway, Llanwern Tory councillor, has opposed the plans, saying young disabled and elderly service users would find it difficult to travel to Newport International Sports Village or Newport Centre.

The council says it is looking at options for providing sporting activities for children and young people in other buildings in the Underwood area.

If the proposal is approved officers will work with two groups that regularly use the centre to relocate.