The final nail in the coffin of plans to merge Bath’s One Stop Shop and Central Library appears to come out of a report to be considered as part of forward budget planning by Bath & North East Somerset Council.
The idea’s now to save the three million it would have cost to complete the merger and ‘refresh’ the existing facility instead.
It follows a review of plans for the library under the council’s Modern Libraries Programme, which in 2017 had proposed the Podium as the site for a central Bath integrated Library and One Stop Shop.
Last year the £3m scheme was paused pending a review due to challenging budget pressures.
A budget report before the council’s cabinet, which meets on Thursday November 7, says the council’s Capital Programme will be adjusted as a result to remove the £3m allocated to the scheme.
But councillors will be recommended to consider a smaller capital investment proposal, as part of the council’s capital budget for the next financial year, which would fund work to refresh the library.
Councillor Richard Samuel, cabinet member for Resources, said: “Libraries are a community asset and this proposal allows us to protect and invest in Bath Central Library which needs some updating. The One Stop Shop and its partners will remain in Manvers Street. If approved by council the work will be budgeted for in the 2020/21 capital programme.”
City Centre Councillor Sue Craig, (Lib Dem, Kingsmead) commented:
“I’m delighted by this news. The new Lib Dem administration is listening to residents and putting them first. There were dozens of protests against the previous Conservative scheme, which would have seen the Library and One Stop Shop shoehorned into one building.
“The Lib Dems opposed that plan throughout the previous four years; it was too expensive and impractical. The Conservative administration never proved the case for co-locating these two services and they wasted a lot of time and money trying to force their plan through.
“Now the Library will benefit from funding to update and refresh facilities, thanks to this decision. The Library is such an important service and it needs the right support from the Council. I’m glad our new Lib Dem administration has been able to draw a line under this sorry episode.”
Through the Modern Libraries Programme the council has invested in nine community libraries, a new mobile library vehicle and extended the click and collect scheme for books through the roll-out of more community libraries. In addition it has invested in a more integrated library and information services in Keynsham and in Midsomer Norton.
It has also developed the digital offer to people giving library members access to a wide range of digital facilities and resources, from free computer and internet access, to online books, audiobooks and e-magazines. There is also support and advice in libraries to help people improve their digital skills as well as many community events.
Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for community services, said; “The latest community library to open was this week at Peasedown St John which is being run by more than 20 volunteers and will be open for 12 hours a week, stocked with 700 books as well as access to the click and collect service. Our excellent digital service gives residents access to e-books and e-magazines as well as free internet access.
“Our libraries are not only about providing access to a vast range of information and literature they are also an important point of social contact, especially for people living in rural communities.”
As part of £275,000 investment in the Modern Libraries programme the council set aside a start-up fund of £5,000 per scheme, to help with the successful development of community libraries.
Please follow this link to the cabinet report
And follow this link for more details about community libraries https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/community-libraries