‘Emsworth Library provides excellent value’ - readers hit back at proposed move

Hampshire County Council is proposing to move the library into Emsworth Community Centre
Hampshire County Council is proposing to move the library into Emsworth Community Centre
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A BUSY library under threat of being moved to a community centre offers value for money as a public service, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Bob Smyth is one of many residents in Emsworth who are campaigning for the library to stay in St Peter’s Square.

Hampshire County Council is proposing to move it into Emsworth Community Centre to reduce costs.

Mr Smyth made a Freedom of Information request and the response shows that, based on the large number of people visiting the library, the facility is actually offering value.

Last year there were 150,431 visits to the library.

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

Overall, there were 83 visits every hour, compared to 33 at Lee-on-the-Solent and 27 at Bishop’s Waltham.

The cost to the council per visit is 50p, compared to £1.10 at Bishop’s Waltham and 90p at Lee-on-the-Solent.

Mr Smyth said: ‘The figures show that the Emsworth branch is not only very successful, but also much cheaper to run than comparable small libraries. It attracts eighty-plus visits per opening hour, which is almost double that of similar branches.

‘While the running cost is high in relation to its floor space, it provides excellent value. This demolishes any case for moving to premises which would attract fewer visits.’

Figures show Emsworth is the only leasehold venue among comparable libraries.

The cost was £75,941 last year, compared to £39,203 for Lee-on-the-Solent and £35,258 for Bishop’s Waltham.

Councillor Keith Chapman, in charge of libraries in Hampshire, said: ‘Emsworth Library is a popular and busy library and does well compared to other similar-sized libraries, however, the lease costs are very high.

‘As with all of our buildings that are leased, we are always looking to reduce rent and maintenance costs.

‘The proposed move of the library from High Street to Emsworth Community Centre in North Street would bring about a much-needed saving on rent, as we look to deliver more with less money.’

He said there were no plans to move facilities to Havant.

The consultation ends October 18. To take part visit hants.gov.uk/library. A petition has been set up at friendsofemsworthlibrary.org.uk