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More libraries to be taken over by communities

Lancashire County Council HQ 1

5:05am 10th March 2017

Ownership of some libraries in Lancashire has been transferred to the community.

It's to provide a range of community-based activities, and to help ease funding pressures on the council.

The council agreed last year to reduce the number of buildings it owns and rents, and form a network of multi-functional buildings known as Neighbourhood Centres.

They provide a base for a range of different services in one place.

The council also agreed a package of help to establish independent community-run libraries, which are in addition to the statutory service provided by the county council.

The support package includes £5,000 to provide public internet access and cover set-up costs, as well as shelving, an initial supply of books from the county's store, and advice from a dedicated community library manager.

When an independent community library becomes operational, the council will also continue to provide support through an annual grant of £1,000 to provide public internet access.

Now the council's agreed that community organisations can take ownership of a further six buildings, with the county council to help independent community libraries become established in two of them.

All of the proposals are subject to further discussion and final agreement on the terms of the transfer.

The following libraries have been approved so far;

- Thornton Youth and Community Centre will be transferred to Wyre District Scouts Council to use as a headquarters.
Their proposal is also to develop the building for community use throughout the day by local groups including sports clubs, mothers and toddlers groups, and health clubs.

- Belmont Community Centre in Burnley will be transferred to Belmont Community Association, which has managed the building for 35 years.
It is currently used by more than 100 people a week and provides a range of educational and volunteering activities.
They propose to encourage wider use of the centre and seek opportunities to ensure the community centre is sustainable into the future.

- Pike Hill Library in Burnley will be transferred to the Veterans Association UK charity.
The county council has also made a further decision to provide support for the development of an independent community-run library.
The charity offers a wide range of services for veterans, but also extends help to the wider community.
The charity is proposing to expand its existing services while also offering facilities for use by other local organisations.

County Councillor David Borrow, deputy leader for Lancashire County Council, said:

"The aim of our property strategy is to ensure we have the buildings we need to provide good access to good services, while making some of the enormous savings we need make due to ongoing government cuts and rising demand for services.

"We said at the start of this process that we would consider proposals from groups who may want to take on full responsibility for council-owned buildings which we no longer need, in order to use for the benefit of the community, under the provisions of our Community Asset Transfer policy.

"We have received business cases relating to a variety of buildings, and have been working with the organisations which have submitted them to ensure we have the information we need to make a decision.

"This is the second set of decisions we have made to support in principle a number of asset transfers as part of the property strategy.

"We have considered each of the proposals very carefully, and have taken into account the sustainability of these proposals, and the buildings' market value bearing in mind that we will forgo any funds which could have been raised by selling them.

"I'm pleased that two of the proposals are to establish further independent community libraries, and make us of the county council's package of support to create libraries which will complement the statutory service provided by the county council.

"Services which are owned and run by the community have a particular value as they can respond flexibly to local needs, and I'm very pleased that we're able to support these proposals."

Further decisions have been taken to decline applications for Community Asset Transfers relating to two buildings - Heysham Young People's Centre and Children's Centre, and Clayton Brook Children's Centre in Chorley.

Heysham Youth and Community Centre Playgroup will continue to deliver services from Heysham Young People's Centre and Children's Centre.

Clayton Brook Children's Centre will be offered to the school on whose site it is based.

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