Council extends consultation over Emsworth Library proposals

Campaigners want to stop Emswoeth library being moved into the town's community centre
Campaigners want to stop Emswoeth library being moved into the town's community centre
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CAMPAIGNERS hoping to stop a library being moved to a community centre, have urged a council to suspend its consultation into the plans.

Hampshire County Council is consulting on proposals to save money by moving Emsworth Library from its current location in The Square, to the Church Path community centre.
But objectors say the layout is not right and there will not be enough space for what is one of the busiest small libraries in the county.

Last year it had 150,431 visits.

Comparable libraries, such as Lee-on-the-Solent, had only 43,561 visits, with 31,961 at Bishop’s Waltham.

Now, following early responses to the consultation, the council has asked architects to have another look at the plans.

Ray Cobbett, of Beach Road, Emsworth, said: ‘The fact is that at the moment we don’t really have a plan for the new library, so how can they consult on it?

‘It’s important that we wait until we have a clear view of what’s on offer here.’

A Freedom of Information request by library user Bob Smyth revealed the cost to the council per visit to Emsworth is 50p, compared to £1.10 at Bishop’s Waltham and 90p at Lee-on-the-Solent.

Bernard Stanley the secretary of Littlestone Properties, which owns the building, said the annual rent is only £26,750 and has not been put up for seven years.

Littlestone foots the bill for maintenance even though the council – as tenant – should.

He said it will cost Hampshire County Council to leave the contract before 2018.

Councillor Keith Chapman, in charge of culture, has extended the consultation deadline to November 30.

He added: ‘Following feedback from residents on the proposals for relocating Emsworth Library, and in particular where in the community centre building the new library might be based, we have investigated an alternative layout.

‘However, this consultation is still essentially about the proposed move to the community centre and I would like to urge everyone to send in their comments.

‘Further details about the alternative suggestion will be available shortly.

‘In order to give people sufficient time to comment on this, we have extended the closing date of the consultation on the relocation of Emsworth Library by six weeks to November 30.’