Local libraries “could safely reopen” for limited hours, as using them carries a relatively low coronavirus risk, parish councillors have said.
Councillor Lisa Dugmore said the library at Turreff Hall, Donnington, provided “a very important service for older and more vulnerable residents” and urged her colleagues on Donnington and Muxton Parish Council to consider re-opening the facility, which has been closed for two months.
She said borrowing and returning books was “a damn sight less risky” than visiting garden centres.
Councillor Martyn Edwards added supermarkets were also higher risk.
Councillor Nigel Dugmore said the parish should take the lead from Telford and Wrekin Council’s library service in order to give the public a “cohesive message”.
Clerk Ralph Morgan said he was not aware of any other local councils in the area that were considering reopening libraries, and chairman Phil Loughlin asked him to seek advice from the borough council.
They were speaking shortly after agreeing to donate £1,000 to Telford and Wrekin Council’s Kindle Kindness campaign, which aims to raise £25,000 to buy tablet devices to distribute at the Princess Royal Hospital, the Women’s and Children’s Centre and residential care homes.
Councillor John Thompson proposed the grant, which all seven members who took part in the virtual meeting supported the donation.
Cllr Lisa Dugmore said: “I have no objections on that point, but are we looking to reopen the libraries? I think that’s just as important. We have discussed it.
“It is linked in as much as it’s reading material for the most vulnerable.
“The library is a very important service for some of our older and more vulnerable residents, and I believe we could safely open it, even if it was for some limited time.
“I think it’s something we should look at.”
Donnington and Muxton Community Library, on Turreff Avenue, Donnington, closed on Friday, March 20.
Cllr Loughlin asked Mr Morgan whether other town or parish council were considering reopening their libraries.
“No, not that I’m aware of,” Mr Morgan said.
Cllr Lisa Dugmore said: “They’re surely a damn sight less risky than a b****y garden centre?”
Cllr Edwards added: “I’d have thought they’re a damn sight less risky than going in a supermarket too.”
Garden centres have been allowed to trade since Wednesay, May 13, and supermarkets have been open throughout the lockdown period. Social distancing guidelines apply at both.
Councillor Jim Lavery pointed out that a risk assessment would be needed, and computer screens would be a particularly high-risk area.
“I wasn’t thinking about reopening computers,” Cllr Lisa Dugmore said.
“I was merely thinking that we could lend and return books.
“When people return them they could easily be isolated for three or four days. It’s quite a simple operation.”
Cllr Nigel Dugmore said: “I think we should take the lead from when the central libraries reopen. If we go our own way, it’s not giving a very cohesive message across the borough.”