A new chap­ter for threat­ened li­braries

The Chronicle - - News - By MIKE KELLY Re­porter mike.kelly@ncj­me­dia.co.uk @MikeJKelly1962

FOUR at-risk li­braries could now stay open af­ter vol­un­tary groups were found to run them.

In May we re­vealed branch li­braries in Whit­burn, East Boldon, Boldon Lane and Prim­rose in South Ty­ne­side faced the axe as a re­sult of bud­get cuts.

South Ty­ne­side Coun­cil had pro­posed to de­liver fu­ture li­brary ser­vices from multi-service ‘hubs’ in­clud­ing The Word, Heb­burn Cen­tral, Jar­row Hub and Cleadon Park but also ap­pealed for vol­un­teers to make a case to run those un­der threat.

But fol­low­ing a con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod the coun­cil is now work­ing with com­mu­nity groups to de­liver li­brary ser­vices in the four branch li­brary ar­eas.

It is pro­posed Boldon Lane Li­brary be run by Ac­tion Sta­tions; East Boldon by the Friends of East Boldon Li­brary; Prim­rose by Perth Green CA and Whit­burn by Friends of Whit­burn Li­brary.

The coun­cil’s cab­i­net will meet to dis­cuss the pro­posal on Mon­day.

If given the go ahead, the coun­cil will en­ter into a long-term ar­range­ment with the groups.

Coun Alan Kerr, lead mem­ber for cul­ture and leisure, said: “Com­mu­ni­ties across South Ty­ne­side have come for­ward to work in part­ner­ship with us to pro­tect our li­braries.

“I am de­lighted at the re­sponse we have had and I am con­fi­dent that the Bor­ough’s com­mu­nity li­braries are vi­able in the long term.

“The pub­lic sec­tor as a whole faces un­prece­dented fi­nan­cial chal­lenges.

“At South Ty­ne­side, our core gov­ern­ment fund­ing has been re­duced by al­most 50% since 2010. By work­ing hand in hand with the peo­ple of the Bor­ough we have been able to find a res­o­lu­tion which should pro­vide a com­pre­hen­sive sus­tain­able service go­ing for­ward.” Coun Nancy Maxwell, lead mem­ber for vol­un­tary sec­tor part­ner­ships and co­op­er­a­tives, said: “Against a back­ground of re­duc­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port from cen­tral gov­ern­ment, we have tried all routes to keep com­mu­nity li­braries open and we believe we have now found a so­lu­tion.” The pro­posal said Ac­tion Sta­tions would pro­vide a sus­tain­able ac­ces­si­ble service on Boldon Lane. The is­sue of the high vol­ume of us­age by the el­derly/vul­ner­a­ble is best served through the Ac­tion Sta­tions pro­posal as they cur­rently work with many el­derly/vul­ner­a­ble clients with view to com­bat­ing so­cial iso­la­tion. The Friends of East Boldon Li­brary would pro­vide a sus­tain­able ac­ces­si­ble li­brary service on the East Boldon site Perth Green Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion was the only or­gan­i­sa­tion ex­press­ing an in­ter­est in run­ning Prim­rose li­brary. The plan would be to re-house the li­brary in the As­so­ci­a­tion’s build­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the pro­posal by the Friends of Whit­burn Li­brary rep­re­sents the best op­por­tu­nity for the con­tin­u­a­tion of a sus­tain­able ac­ces­si­ble li­brary service in Whit­burn with a fo­cus on pro­mot­ing vil­lage her­itage which was a key is­sue iden­ti­fied dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion.

The Word

Coun Alan Kerr

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