Consultation over plans to relocate library criticised

Hampshire County Council has proposed to move the library to Emsworth Community Centre
Hampshire County Council has proposed to move the library to Emsworth Community Centre

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A CONSULTATION over whether a library should be moved to a community centre continues to come under sharp criticism.

More than 300 comments have been submitted to Hampshire County Council about proposals to move the library from Emsworth Square to the centre in Church Path.
A petition with more than 1,000 signatures opposing any move has been submitted.
But there remains confusion about what is actually being proposed.
Following a statement from the council, residents believed they would be seeing revised plans for the library’s layout in the community centre. 
The initial plan appeared to show book shelving units in one part of the centre.
However, following feedback, the authority announced an alternative layout was being investigated and fresh plans would be released.
This meant
the consultation would be extended to November 30.

However, it now appears those designs are still not ready and the consultation will end on October 18.

Once the feedback has been analysed about the principal of moving, Councillor Keith Chapman, in charge of libraries, said there would be further consultation on more detailed plans.

But library user Ray Cobbett said: ‘People are asking why are they doing this, how much money is being saved, will it be better than what we have got, and how will it be run? It’s just basic questions.’

He said the consultation had been ‘a bit of a farce’.

User Bob Smyth said: ‘The libraries management were trying to put a library in the existing small and low-ceilinged lobby, with a new-build lobby added on. It was never going to be big enough.’

Cllr Chapman said: ‘This consultation is about proposals to move the location of the library. No decisions have yet been made and I would urge people to let us know what they think of our plans to relocate and upgrade the library so we can make an informed decision that benefits the whole community.

‘Once we have had a chance to reflect on the views of the community on the proposed move, we would be able to consult further on detailed plans.’

He said the council had to look at less expensive ways of running the library ‘particularly if there is an alternative, attractive option’.