Library proposals agreed by cabinet

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lancashire County Council's cabinet has today agreed proposals about the future of two libraries in Earby and Bamber Bridge.

Plans have previously been agreed for the phased reopening of 18 libraries, 12 of which will be run by the county council, and six as independent community libraries.

Bamber Bridge Library and Earby Library were among those libraries about which decisions had been deferred to allow time for further consideration.

Both libraries had been declared surplus to requirements following decisions taken by the council's previous administration and were closed to the public last September.

The council has been considering an application to transfer ownership of Bamber Bridge Library to 1st Bamber Bridge Scouts under its Community Asset Transfer (CAT) policy and the cabinet today agreed in principle to go ahead with the asset transfer.

The Scouts' proposal is to use the building as their new headquarters, and to open it up for use by the wider community for activities such as meetings and training throughout the day. Their proposal includes establishing an independent community library, and today's decision by cabinet brings the number of independent community-run libraries in development to seven.

The cabinet also gave permission for a feasibility study to consider the costs and other implications of re-establishing Earby library in the New Road Community Centre rather than the former library building.

County Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: "Libraries are a vital service at the heart of our communities, offering free access to books and information, as well as being a place where communities can get together.

"We have committed to reopening libraries where they've been closed, whether they're run by the county council or independently by community organisations, and we are grateful to all the voluntary and community groups who have shown such commitment to the library service and its future development.

"We have agreed in principle to transfer ownership of the Bamber Bridge Library building to the Scouts, and we'll work with them to ensure that the independent community library is delivered as soon as possible so that people have access to another library complementing the service operated by the county council.

"We also want to reopen a library service in Earby, however the building where it had been based is not in good condition and isn't well-suited to operating a modern library service. The feasibility study will look at the costs of reopening the library in the nearby community centre, which the county council also owns, so that we have all the information we need before making the final decision."

Today's decisions bring the network of libraries to be run by Lancashire County Council to 58, with a further seven independent community libraries in development.

The county council has agreed a package of help to establish community-run libraries, which includes £5,000 to provide public internet access and cover set-up costs, as well as shelving, an initial supply of books from the county's store, and advice from a dedicated community library manager. When an independent community library becomes operational, the council will also continue to provide support through an annual grant of £1,000 to provide public internet access.

Meanwhile, progress is being made towards deciding the future of Upholland Library in West Lancashire. Two community groups that had previously applied for a community asset transfer are now including within their submissions proposals to establish an independent community-run library. The asset transfer proposals will be considered by cabinet in the near future.

At St Annes Library work continues to try to resolve the structural issues with the building. The library was closed for safety in August on the advice of surveyors after some plaster fell from the ceiling, with a detailed survey needed to inform repairs. The library is now not expected to reopen until next year. Some of the services previously being delivered at St Annes Library are being delivered from Ansdell Library, including collection of reserved items, and some events. The Registration Office which had been operating from St Annes Library is currently operating from the Preston Registration Office. Officers are actively looking at options to deliver the service from another building in the Fylde area until St Annes Library reopens. Opening times at Ansdell Library and Kirkham Library have been extended while St Annes Library is closed.

Tagged as: Libraries and Archives

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