Councillors to decide on plan for scouts to take over library

The former library on Station Road in Bamber Bridge
The former library on Station Road in Bamber Bridge
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Plans to hand over a county library to the local scout group will be considered by councillors next week.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet will meet on Thursday to decide on the transfer of ownership of Bamber Bridge library to the 1st Bamber Bridge Scouts.

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

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. They would also develop their proposal to include establishing an independent community library, and if the proposal is agreed by cabinet this would bring the number of independent community libraries in development to seven.

Councillors will also consider proposals for library provision in Earby.

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.

“If agreed in principle and the project progresses, we will support Bamber Bridge Scouts to establish the community library, and we’ll continue to work with them to progress the asset transfer 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. Cabinet is therefore being asked to give the go-ahead for a feasibility study to look at the costs of reopening the library in the nearby community centre, so that we have all the information we need before making the final decision.”

If the proposals are agreed it would 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.