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7th November 2012

LYME REGIS: Is the library still under threat?

By Philip Evans

LYME Regis library, saved from closure after a hard-fought fight against county council cuts last year, could still be under threat of closure in the future, according to a town councillor.

Deputy mayor Anita Williams, one of the main campaigners to keep the Silver Street library from closing, told a meeting of the town council last week that the library’s future could come up for review in 2014. Her view, however, is not shared by county councillor Colonel Geoffery Brierley.

Councillor Williams made her comment at a meeting of the Strategy and Policy Committee after consultant David Gale had given a presentation on Lyme Regis Development Trust’s plans to investigate the possibility of moving the library and LymeNet, the community learning centre, to the Woodmead Halls site.

The plan would involve the county council handing over the Silver Street site for housing development and being rehoused on town council land currently used for car parking on the eastern side of the Woodmead Halls.

LymeNet would also move to the site and the provisional plans drawn up for the development also included a third hall and skittle alley for the Woodmead Halls and a cafeteria. 

Councillor Williams told the meeting: “It was made very clear to us that when Dorset County Council took the nine libraries off the ‘at risk’ list that was not the end. It was the end for now but they would review it in 2014.

“We were saved because of the Libraries Act, we offered too many local services for them to get rid of us. That act is now gone. We don’t have the protection.

“I’m not scaremongering but they will come for us in 2014 and I don’t think we have any defence.”

When asked to comment on any future threat to the library, Colonel Brierley, who will stand down next May after 12 years as Lyme’s county councillor, said: “As far as the county council is concerned, there is no threat to Lyme library. I do not know what they are talking about.

“All efforts have been to keep the library where it is and they may be saying this to make a case to move it to the Woodmead Halls site.  As far as the Library Service is concerned, the library will be staying where it is.  

“Members would have to agree to the site being given to the Development Trust and I cannot see that happening.  It is quite a valuable site. We have not been consulted about this.”

A spokesperson for Dorset County Council said: “In July 2011, the  county council agreed how it would deliver a public library service to meet its statutory obligations and this included a network of 25 county council libraries - one of which is Lyme Regis. 

“There are no known plans to review the future of the library provision in Lyme Regis during 2014.”

Asked to comment on the possibility that the library could move to the Woodmead halls site, the spokesman said: ““The county council is in informal discussions with LRDT about the feasibility of co-locating the library and LymeNet in Lyme Regis, to provide an enhanced and co-ordinated service for the benefit of the local community. 

“A number of options are being explored including the possibility of additional, wider uses of the Woodmead Halls site and some possible provision of affordable housing for rent on the current library site. 

“At this stage, the options are still being developed by LRDT, and no decisions have been made about the future use of the current library site or any new site. Key stakeholders are being kept informed about the progress of these discussions.”

PICTURE 1: COUNCILLOR ANITA WILLIAMS - “They will come for us in 2014”

PICTURE 2: AN architect’s impression of how the front of the Woodmead Halls would look if the Development Trust plans to move the library and LymeNet to the site reach fruition.

LYME REGIS: Is the library still under threat?LYME REGIS: Is the library still under threat?

Comments

Just to point out that the Libraries Act has not gone. The 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act which ensures all councils provide a "comprehensive and efficient" library service is very much still on the statute books, although its vagueness means that it very rarely appealed to.

Posted by Ian Anstice on 7th November, 2012

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