Libraries to move home under plan to create more places for people to meet together

A library is set to be moved under plans which will see more places for people to gather and socialise.

One councillor says libraries in Redcar and Cleveland are “moving out of the dark ages” after improvement plans which will include the creation of more community hubs got the green light.

The council is bidding for £280,000 from the Arts Council to “substantially renovate” Ormesby library and also create a modern, multi-use community facility to include a cafe and lounge area.

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Other planned changes, subject to consultation with the public and relevant ward councillors, include:

  • Developing the first floor of the Laburnum Road library building, in Redcar, to create a community space for social activities and groups for local residents
  • The creation of a room at Marske library for local community groups to hire, as well as to be used by the council’s early help team to promote children’s literacy targets in children
  • The transfer of the Dormanstown library into the larger Dormanstown family hub building about 400m away, which will combine these services into one property.

Separately, as a result of a successful bid to the Government’s Future High Street Fund, the current Loftus library building is set to be demolished, with the site to be developed into a car park.

The library will move across the road into the council’s existing youth centre and family hub building, which is getting a new extension to house the library service.

A report said the library accommodation plans could save £567,785 in maintenance costs over 10 years, along with £50,180 in annual running costs.

Councillor Steve Kay, the council’s cabinet member for health, housing and welfare, speaking at the council’s cabinet meeting, said: “We are moving out of the dark ages as far as libraries are concerned and trying to be a bit more imaginative.

“Libraries are not being closed, but they are evolving in an upward direction.

“They will continue to be used as libraries, but also as community centres on the other hand.”

Cllr Steve Kay
Cllr Steve Kay

Cllr Kay added: “It is important that as a council we explore the opportunity to provide additional services from our libraries, which will not only improve what they have to offer, but make them more sustainable in the future.”

Councillor Glyn Nightingale, the council’s cabinet member for resources, said the plans were a major change and would help protect and improve library services.

He said: “Locating additional services with libraries will help to create public facilities that have a wider range of uses.

“This will help us develop improved links with our communities and deliver better value for money for our residents.”

The report outlining the plans said: “The service offer will become more sustainable by reducing the number of standalone library buildings that the council operates.

“Opportunities to co-locate complimentary services will provide some synergies and increase the use of our buildings, delivering better value for money.

“Whilst the creation of additional community space will also improve links with the communities within which our libraries sit, creating multi-use public facilities that generate greater social value from the operation of our buildings.”

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Ormesby library was built in 1966 and while the building is said to be structurally sound, it is said to require major improvements both internally and externally in order to bring it up to date.

The council is contributing £70,000 to the planned works, but hopes the bulk of the funding will come from the Arts Council.

A final decision on this is expected in February next year.

Services delivered from the 13 libraries in the borough include book borrowing, access to public computers, face-to-face council tax and housing benefit advice, photocopying and printing, along with the administration of the concessionary bus pass and blue badge disabled parking permit schemes.

In Redcar and Cleveland staff who operate and run the libraries also double up as customer service representatives, meaning they also manage calls and general enquiries that come into the council.

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Teesside Live – Redcar and Cleveland