PUBLIC consultation is open on plans to save a Newport library which would see its opening hours cut, writes ALISTAIR CORLESS.

During a Malpas ward meeting last night, residents were informed that Newport City Council’s initial decision to close the Malpas library had been overturned, with the council now proposing to keep the library open for 20 hours per week.

Malpas residents now have until April 29 to voice their opinion, with the council running a public consultation on the new proposal.

More than 100 concerned residents attended a public meeting in January, where the Malpas library faced closure after a £268,000 cut to the Council’s library services budget. During January’s meeting, Newport City Council’s strategic director for place, Shelia Davies, outlined the alternative proposal, where a librarian would be present for 20 hours a week.

Malpas councillor, Jane Mudd, who attended the ward meeting with Cllr David Mayer and Cllr Christine Maxfield, said: “A scrutiny review group met with the group which deals with Newport’s libraries and came up with an alternative proposal. This was taken to cabinet on February 9 where it was agreed by cabinet. The proposal was then put to full council who agreed with it. We are now going through a statutory consultation period which ends on April 29.

“The volunteers have a chance to shape a steering group and decide how their library is run. Volunteers can be trained in electronic issuing while there could be a service available in the evening rather than during 9-5 while people are at work.”

Alun Prescott, Operational Manager of Newport City Council, said the public consultation can be filled out online, and there are copies of the public consultation forms in Newport’s libraries.

Former Malpas councillor Graham Dally, who chaired January’s public meeting, said: “In North Wales they are two years ahead of us.

“Most of the public in Malpas don’t know about this consultation. Personally, I think there should be another public meeting to tell the people about this.”

Cllr Jane Mudd said: “I know they are frustrated but it is important for us to remind residents that the original proposal was to close the library. It is also important for the public to know that there aren’t going to be any immediate changes from the first of April with the start of the new financial year.”

After the meeting, Cllr Mudd told the Argus there would be a second public meeting after the consultation closes.