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Cabinet approves proposals about former libraries in Penwortham and Upholland

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has agreed to transfer ownership of two buildings to local groups, which will offer a range of services to their local communities.

Proposals about the future of the former Penwortham and Upholland libraries were agreed by Lancashire County Council’s cabinet yesterday (Thursday 11 October).

The cabinet agreed in principle to a community asset transfer application to handover the ownership of Penwortham Library to Penwortham Town Council, subject to final agreement over the terms of the transfer. This is to enable the Town Council to establish a new Penwortham Library Theatre, and develop the site into a centre for social interaction for the community of Penwortham.

The Penwortham Library Theatre will become a community hub for many of the local arts and voluntary community groups within the town. A Penwortham information desk, a small museum of local artefacts and an area where community groups can meet will also be provided.

County Councillor Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “I’m very pleased that we have been able to take this decision in principle, to transfer the former Penwortham Branch Library building to Penwortham Town Council. The county council is also working with the town council to establish a community library in Penwortham Young People’s Centre, when a separate transfer is completed in the near future.

“Penwortham Town Council is a very well established organisation, and I have every confidence that the new ways of utilising the buildings will be a real asset to the local community.”

Cabinet also agreed that the transfer of the former Upholland Library to Artz for All should be completed.

Cabinet had previously agreed in principle the application for the Community Asset Transfer (CAT) of Upholland Library in West Lancashire to Artz for All, a community interest company (CIC) which provides creative opportunities and services to people, schools and organisations across the district.

Artz for All intend to turn the building into an arts centre, providing opportunities for young people to take part in activities such as drama, music, dance and photography, as well as providing space for wider community activities where possible.

The organisation will also provide an independent community-run library service, which will be maintained for use by the community.

They will be able to access a package of help from the county council to establish the community-run library, 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 the 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.

County Councillor Buckley added: “We have agreed to transfer ownership of Upholland Library to Artz for All as quickly as possible. We’ll work closely with them to complete the process, so that local people have access to another library service to complement the library services operated by the county council.

“I fully support the range of services and activities that will be provided for young people and for the wider community by Artz for All.”

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