THE future of Wem Library remains uncertain as the building's lease approaches its expiry date.

The lease on the building is set to expire in 2022, with the original expiry date being pushed back a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At Wem Town Council's full council meeting, held virtually on Thursday, February 25, council clerk Penny O'Hagan suggested the town council meet with Shropshire Council on the issue.

"I'm very concious the library is coming to the end of its lease in the next year," said Ms O'Hagan. "I attended a consultation event as part of the library service, it involved everyone who worked in the tier three libraries.

"I think it is important that the town council is proactive on this and asks for a meeting with Shropshire Council."

Town councillor and Shropshire councillor, Chris Mellings, pressed the need to secure the future of the library.

"Penny quite rightly contacted me to try and find what was happening," said Cllr Mellings. "Discussion are still taking place as to a future location.

"They're looking to extend the current lease a further 12 months to give them more time to consider options, I think that’s useful as time does run away quickly.

"Wem values its community library and needs to secure its future.

"Hopefully we can work with the council to find a good solution for the town."

Cllr Mandy Meakin also highlighted the importance of keeping the town library, to prevent to further loss of high street premises.

"Apart from the educational part and the footfall the library gets now, if the lease from that building goes it is another empty space in Wem," said Cllr Meakin. "We are slowly losing our high street.

"As well as the importance of having a library, it's not having an empty building."

Councillors also discussed the possibility of talking with the lease-holder, either to lower the cost or to extend the lease.

Cllr Edward Towers said: "One of the things the present owner has benefited from is a well stitched-up lease.

"I would hope you can impress upon him the benefit of asking for less on his lease as that might help in Shropshire having a library for a little longer."

Cllr Mellings added: "Part of the rational was that it was simply too expensive. Were in different circumstances now – we have been around this for a good few years now.

"They're talking of trying to extend it to buy some more time but we need to have that conversation."