CAMPAIGNERS are overjoyed that a council has made a U-turn on closing a library and moving it to a community centre.
More than 1,000 people signed a petition to stop Hampshire County Council switching Emsworth library from its own building in The Square to the back room of the centre.
The council said it would have saved £30,000 a year with the move but further investigation proved work that needed to be done to the community centre to bring it up to scratch was too expensive.
Ray Cobbett, the former county councillor responsible for setting up the library in 1997, said: ‘This is very welcome news.
‘It’s a victory for the majority given that the council’s own survey revealed a substantial majority against it.
‘Even though they are abandoning it for financial reasons I think they’ve made the right decision.’
The library receives an average of 83 visits every hour, but costs almost £76,000 a year to run.
It was originally thought a smaller operation at the community centre would be cheaper but it has emerged that the potential costs involved outweigh the savings.
Councillor Andrew Gibson, who is in charge of culture at the council, said: ‘Emsworth Library is popular and busy and we’re committed to providing a quality service for the community which is sustainable in the long term.
‘We had been hoping that the library could move to the community association building, but over the last few weeks it has become apparent that the scale of the work involved and the costs are too great, and so we’re very disappointed to say that we’ve decided not to go any further with plans for the move.’
Cllr Gibson added: ‘The lease on the current library building runs until 2018, and it is still our intention to find a better value-for-money solution so we can maximise our resources on providing a strong, vibrant and sustainable library service, rather than on the building in which it is located.
‘We are determined to find a suitable long-term home for this well-loved local library, and to continue to support the excellent work of the community association.’