CALLS have been made for another new modern library to be built in Portsmouth.
Conservatives on Portsmouth City Council say the success of Southsea’s new library could be repeated in Cosham.
The library, cafe and customer service centre in Southsea’s Palmerston Road replaced a closed Woolworths store when it opened in July last year.
It immediately proved successful with more than 1,300 people joining the library and over 18,000 items borrowed by customers during its first month of being open.
At a meeting of the full Portsmouth City Council Tory culture spokesman, Cllr Jim Fleming, said: ‘The user figures at Southsea Library speak for themselves.
‘The current Cosham library is not exactly disabled-user friendly and we will need to address this in the near future, so why not take the opportunity to bring a new cultural life to Cosham?
‘This isn’t just about books and libraries – although it would certainly help literacy levels in the city – but it’s about the whole cultural offering that a new revamped library could provide.
‘If it’s good enough for Southsea, it’s good enough for Cosham and my colleagues and I will continue to press the council for this investment.’
Lib Dem cabinet member for culture Lee Hunt said the council was looking into building a new library in Cosham already.
‘We have been doing this without them asking,’ he said.
‘We have visited a number of premises in Cosham and we are preparing the way for a new library.
‘I’m glad the Tories have changed their minds but they originally said Southsea would be a waste of money.
‘It has been a phenomenal success and it is not surprising that this suggestion is coming now, just before an election.’
Leader of the council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, pointed out that the Tories had initially opposed the new library in Southsea.
‘I think they should publicly apologise for getting it so wrong and voting against the Southsea library in the first place,’ he said.
Conservative group leader Simon Bosher said that it was a long held ambition of his party to build a new library in the north of the city.
‘It is disappointing that the Lib Dems are playing politics like this,’ he said. ‘Because we have been working very, very hard to get a new library and in the past they have never been supportive of it.
‘We were never against the principle of Southsea library, only its cost.’