A new chapter for threatened libraries
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.
Coun Alan Kerr