Councillors have blasted the ‘terrible condition’ of Northwich’s Grade II listed library.

Cllrs Paul Dolan and Sam Naylor - who represent the town’s Winnington and Castle ward - are concerned that the ‘iconic’ Witton Street facility is ‘falling apart’ and may not be able to cope with the effects of the oncoming winter.

Cllr Dolan told the Chronicle: “The concern both Sam and I have is that here is a distinct, possibly unique Library, greatly valued and well used by the people of Northwich. But it is in a terrible condition, particularly the external side walls.

“I have raised my concerns with senior officers at Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) as I had been informed that the library had not been included in the building works repairs programme either for this current year or even next year.

“As it appears the Grade II listed building does not merit Townscape Heritage Funding or general heritage funding without substantial council contributions also, I fear the library will not be able to withstand another winter’s wear and tear.

“I believe Northwich Library needs to be properly maintained as a key part of the town’s regeneration.”

The library was donated by Sir John Brunner, former MP for Northwich in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the current building dates back to 1909.

Northwich Library
Northwich Library
 

Cllr Naylor added: “It’s falling apart. If you actually look at it, the window frames are rotting.

“It is an iconic building and it continues to be really popular.

“Paul and I held a surgery there last week and we were amazed by how busy it was.”

He revealed he is also worried by a ‘significant cut in staff at the library’.

But Cllr Lynn Riley, executive member for localities, explained that CWaC libraries are undergoing a programme of investment and that the fabric of Northwich Library’s timber-framed building will be subject to an in-depth assessment.

She said: “Specialists, who have a long track record of working in Northwich’s conservation area with the council on historic buildings, are to undertake an initial assessment over the winter months and to prepare a more detailed assessment of the overall building condition, focussing on the historic timber frame.”

Cllr Riley also said the library service’s new staffing structure features four locality librarians and four community librarians who work across the authority and that the new self-service facilities in Northwich Library will enable staff to offer more support to customers, as well as stage activities.

“The new structure and ongoing investment is to ensure libraries are a service that will continue to be valuable to the community and one that we continue to develop to reflect the changing needs of our communities,” she added.