Lancashire County Council has agreed in principle to transfer ownership of four library buildings to community organisations, and help to establish independent community-run libraries in three of them.
The council agreed last year to reduce the number of buildings it owns and rents as part of a new Property Strategy, which included reducing the number of buildings where library services are provided.
During public consultation on the strategy the council agreed to explore proposals by community groups and other organisations to take on responsibility for running some of the affected buildings.
The council also agreed a package of help to establish independent community-run libraries, which are in addition to the statutory service provided by the county council. The support package 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.
Decisions have been agreed in principle to transfer ownership of a further four library buildings to community organisations, with the county council to help establish independent community libraries in three of them.
This commitment will allow the organisations to take the next step with their proposals, for example by applying for charitable status, and seeking sources of funding. It will also allow them to further develop their business models with the help of the Social Enterprise Lancashire Network (Selnet) which has been commissioned to support organisations seeking to take advantage of the Community Asset Transfer (CAT) process.
• Adlington Library and Children’s Centre will be transferred to the Friends of Adlington Library. They will also receive the county council’s package of support to help establish an independent community-run library. Chorley Borough Council has contributed funding to allow the library and children’s centre to continue its current level of service until 31 March 2018. The borough council is working with the Friends and the local community to develop their plans into a sustainable solution so that asset transfer can take place after March 2018.
• Ansdell Library will be transferred to the Friends of Ansdell Library. They will also receive the county council’s package of support to help establish an independent community-run library. The library currently remains open to the public which will continue until renovation works on St Anne’s Library are completed. In the meantime the Friends will use this transition period to develop their proposal, which includes using the building to hold a broad range of events for the whole community.
• Thornton Library will be transferred to the Thornton Cleveleys Gala Committee. They will also receive the county council’s package of support to help establish an independent community-run library. The committee’s proposal includes using the building to hold educational, health-related and cultural activities.
• Bamber Bridge library will be transferred to the First Bamber Bridge Scouts Association who will use the building to deliver Scouts, Cubs and Beavers sessions, possibly expanding to deliver Guides and Brownies depending upon demand. They also propose to use the building for the wider community during the day, by offering rooms for meetings and training.
Mike Kirby, director of corporate commissioning, said: “The council agreed as part of its property strategy to reduce the number of buildings it owns to make savings while still providing good access to good services.
“As part of this process we are considering proposals from groups which may want to take on responsibility for buildings which the council no longer needs under the terms of our Community Asset Transfer policy.
“These further decisions taken by the deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, planning, and cultural services, to go ahead in principle with the transfer of these buildings, will give the groups concerned the commitment they need to take the next steps towards ensuring their organisations have the status and capacity to ensure their proposals are sustainable.
“Three of the proposals are to establish further independent community libraries, and make use of the county council’s package of support, to create libraries which will complement the comprehensive statutory service provided by the county council.”