Campaign against plans to move Emsworth library

Emsworth library
Emsworth library
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PLANS to move Emsworth’s library out of its historic centre have been criticised.

Hampshire County Council is considering proposals to move the library from its current premises in Emsworth Square to the community centre in Church Path.

But some users have said the county council should think again.

Bob Smyth, a member of the Libraries Association, said: ‘The proposed closure is badly ill-judged. As the county council admits, the library is popular and busy – mostly because of its central location. The community centre premises in the old classrooms are badly located, and difficult to get to on foot from the centre – involving the crossing of one or other main roads.

‘The existing arrangements are likely to be more cost effective, judged on a user basis.’

Ray Cobbett added: ‘Nobody wants to see the library taken out of what is the heart of the town. It’s basically a cost-cutting exercise.’

A consultation is under way until October 18.

Michael Stott, chairman of Emsworth Community Association (ECA), has written an open letter, moving to reassure people.

The association leases the premises from the council, which earlier this year awarded £100,000 to upgrade the buildings.

He added: ‘We did not seek the library move but, as the county council owns the ECA premises, we have no option but to see if we can make it work.

‘We have some doubts about whether the space which we are able to make available, will adequately accommodate the library and community centre, both of which are heavily used.’

He said negotiations were in their early stages, but added they ‘intend to maintain our vibrant community centre in the heart of Emsworth’.

Councillor Keith Chapman, who oversees libraries, said: ‘Emsworth Library is a popular and busy library, but the building it is in, is small, difficult to maintain and expensive to rent.’

He said the community centre opened up opportunities for more activities for library users.

He added: ‘While we appreciate the proposed location would not be not quite as central as the current location, there would be the benefit of better parking.’