Emsworth Library to stay put until cheaper location is found

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CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the news a library will remain in its current location until a lower cost premises can be found.

Emsworth Library in the town centre was facing closure when its lease expired next year. And there were fears among many that the lease would not be renewed, as Hampshire County Council said the current site is too expensive to run.

But now its future has been secured.

County councillor Ray Bolton, said: ‘The wider picture across the county is that HCC is keeping all libraries open, and this includes Emsworth Library.

‘The HCC cabinet portfolio holder for libraries and head of cultural services paid the library a visit and both recognise how important it is to maintain the service.

‘Therefore, the council is looking for an alternative location for the library in Emsworth, with lower occupancy costs.

‘Emsworth Library will remain in its present location until a lower occupancy cost premises can be found.

‘A programme is being planned by the council to modernise libraries to meet changing needs in the digital age.

‘We have to seek to achieve the most cost-effective library service, and part of this includes reviewing building occupancy costs.’

In 2015 more than 1,000 people signed a petition to stop HCC moving the library from its own building into a community centre.

The council said it would have saved £30,000 a year by doing so, but work to 
bring the community centre up to scratch was too expensive.

Bob Smyth, from The Friends of Emsworth Library, said: ‘The news that the library will remain where it is until new premises are found is tremendous.

‘The fear was that no replacement would be ready next year and the library would close. Locating and fitting out an alternative premises takes time, so this allows for breathing space.

‘The library will become even more important now as a result of the proposed developments in the “Emsworth gap”.’