The Friends of Hungerford Library (FoHL) met with Cllr Dominic Boeck and Paul James at the start of December to discuss our suggestions for securing Hungerford Library, and indeed the library service throughout West Berkshire, not only for now but for future generations to enjoy. FoHL believes that ideas presented to the Cllr Boeck were both deliverable and forward thinking.
Hungerford Library building to be rented to Hungerford Town Council and FoHL by West Berks Council for a peppercorn rent. FoHL could become a CIC helping us to receive rent rebates as well as matched funding and grants that are not currently available to the council. This provides a building which the community could use when the library was closed, generating income. Hungerford would have a valuable community asset in which to grow new services. The library service itself remains with West Berks and they would be responsible for staff, stock and the computer system. On paper this works out at around a 50/50 split in costs. We believe this is a workable solution for both parties, cost saving for West Berks to meet budget constraints and no change (improved) service to the town.
Newbury Library to move its service into the large council building, space has been created by recent council reductions in staff and would leave them with enough floor space to house the service. A front door to the council and close to bus/train services. FoHL feel this would give West Berks a huge cost saving. West Berks would be free to sell off the costly large building currently housing the service and invest this money back into the library service and other community services currently under threat. FoHL believe this to be the most cost-effective solution to their current budget constraints.
A report on the options and recommendations for the Library Service – and the Equalities Impact Assessment – will be available on 24th January when it is considered by the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Commission.
There is a special Council meeting to consider the report on 7th February in the Council Chamber, West Berkshire Council offices, Market Street, Newbury.
The implementation of the chosen option will begin after the Council’s decision. This will include further meetings with town and parish councils and community groups to work out practical solutions that are achievable.
FoHL thanks you for the continued support, we will publish any news as soon as it becomes available.