A campaign group’s plans to reopen Langney Library as a community-run facility have been finally given the go-ahead.
The community will take over the running of the library in a new unit in Langney Shopping Centre, which will be opening in early September.
This comes after the county council closed the facility earlier this year.
Langney Community Library Steering Group has come to an agreement with East Sussex County Council (ESCC) for an initial three-year deal to provide library stock, fixtures and fittings on a peppercorn rent.
The group will operate a volunteer-run library from a new unit in the Langney Shopping Centre provided free of charge by the centre’s owner, Vale Real Estate.
Langney Councillor Alan Shuttleworth, who is chair of the steering group, said, “I want to show our appreciation to the community and the owners and management of Langney Shopping Centre who have been absolutely marvellous and supportive in every single way – we literally couldn’t have done it without them.
“This morning (Tuesday) we had an event in the shopping centre in which we have been signing up loads of people as members and had so many positive comments about what we have been trying to achieve.”
He said the group would be back at the shopping centre from 10am on Saturday morning (August 4) and will be running events right through August to get plenty of people signed up ahead of the grand reopening.
Donations to the project are welcome and anyone with some spare time is encouraged to volunteer if they can.
Councillor Shuttleworth said, “There’s a lot going on and a lot of people helping in one way or the other. Because it’s the community helping the community I think that brings out the best in people.”
The facility will replace the county council-run library in the same centre, one of seven which were closed in May prompted by what ESCC said was the need for savings due to Government funding cuts.
The move to reopen a library in Langney means six of the seven closed libraries have either already reopened or are reopening as community facilities.
Councillor Bill Bentley, county council lead member for communities and safety, said, “We’re delighted to have been able to come to an agreement with the steering group on a plan which will see a thriving community library return to Langney.
“Closing libraries was a very difficult decision prompted by the severe financial pressures we’re facing, but we’ve always been committed to working with groups who wanted to open volunteer-run libraries.
“This agreement means six of the seven libraries we had to close are reopening as community-led services, which is great news for these communities and for local residents.”
Of the seven libraries which closed, Ringmer has already reopened as a community-run library, while Ore, Pevensey Bay, Polegate, Willingdon and now Langney will reopen in the weeks and months to come.
Despite protests, the libraries closed as part of what the county council calls a ‘modernisation and rationalisation’ of library services which it says includes new community and teacher’s library cards, homework and study clubs in libraries and increased outreach work in the county’s most disadvantaged communities.
The new community libraries will not form part of the statutory library service provided by the council.
Follow the project on Facebook @langneycommunitylib