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'Controversial' Kidderminster Library gallery move given go-ahead
KIDDERMINSTER Library’s top-floor gallery and meeting rooms will be moved to make way for offices with the piano moved to the town hall.
Worcestershire County Council has given the go-ahead to the controversial option which will see the new offices for social services staff occupy the top floor.
The library gallery will be relocated to the first floor which is home to the main library and the Steinway grand piano will be moved to Kidderminster Town Hall.
Kidderminster Gallery Friends, who met with county council staff yesterday to discuss the proposals, had previously said the option was “completely unacceptable” to gallery users and local art and music groups.
The county council claims the selected option was supported by 65 per cent of the 82 consultation respondents - 53 people - over the other option which would have seen a smaller gallery remain on the top floor in its current purpose-built position.
Howard Martin , friends member, said the council, however, had ignored 600 people who signed a petition to keep the gallery as it is.
Council officers say if the change of use plans win planning permission it could save the authority £206,000 per year. The plans are part of the library and learning service's bid to save £1.8 million from its budget over three years.
Steve Wilson, county council arts officer, said: “Having a higher profile designated space should give the gallery more of a focus than previously and I look forward to seeing exhibitions there in the future.”
Conservative councillor John Campion , cabinet member with responsibility for libraries and learning service, said: “We understand this has been a controversial issue but we have listened to everyone’s concerns.
“Its been heartening so many people have come out and displayed their passion for their local library and gallery.
“I am grateful to everyone who attended the engagement sessions and expressed their views and I’m even more pleased we have been able to agree a proposal the majority of respondents supported.”