Emsworth library poised to move from square

A vote will be held on Monday to decide if Emsworth library will be moved into the community centre
A vote will be held on Monday to decide if Emsworth library will be moved into the community centre

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THE fate of Emsworth’s library appears to have been sealed.

Councillors are set to vote on Monday to move the library from its current home in Emsworth Square into Emsworth Community Centre in North Street.

Hampshire County Council launched a public consultation about the money-saving proposals last summer, with 307 people against the move and 142 in favour.

More than 1,000 people signed a petition, calling for the library to stay put.

Regular library user Ray Cobbett was disappointed with the pending decision.

He said: ‘The consultation indicated that the majority of folks were against it and they have totally ignored that and gone ahead with what they planned to do in the first place.

‘It begs the question – why bother having a consultation?

‘The best we can hope for is the library does not close altogether because of the diminished footfall.

‘It puts the future viability of the town’s library at risk.

‘It will deplete the attraction of the town centre. We have already lost two banks. The library is unquestionably a selling feature for the town centre.’

The library is one of the busiest in the county, with 83 visits every hour, on average.

A report by the county council states the move will save around £30,000 a year.

The current library costs almost £76,000 a year to run.

Jean Tier, secretary of Emsworth Community Association, said: ‘In the bigger picture, our community realises that if we don’t provide a space for the library, there may not be one. That would be a great shame for Emsworth.’

A report to go before the Culture and Communities Select Committee states the library would be in the old Victorian school part of the community centre – an area that is ‘bright and welcoming’.

The community centre has already been awarded a grant of £100,000 for refurbishments to turn it into a community hub for Emsworth.

Mrs Tier said: ‘Our business plan is not just activities, but also information and advice.

‘We hope to have Citizen’s Advice Bureau, police, councillor and MP surgeries, and tourist information. We intend to have a community cafe.’

The report adds: ‘The proposed move to the Emsworth Community Association building would mean the library would be nearer the shops, car parking and new residential development in north Emsworth.

‘It would be adjacent to Emsworth Museum and a new doctor’s surgery which is being developed next door, making the area more of a community hub.’