Pleasure denied library users

From: Debbie SmithSummerdown Road

Friday, 22nd June 2018, 10:15 am
Updated Friday, 22nd June 2018, 10:18 am
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Langney Library was one of seven local libraries closed by East Sussex County Council. Being able to walk to a local library, with friendly, familiar staff, is a simple, affordable pleasure which has now been denied to many hundreds of people.

I am part of a group of volunteers who are very keen to run a community library at the existing Langney Library site, within Langney shopping centre. Langney Library was a hugely important resource for the local community with very high footfall – 47,000 visits over a 12 month period and over 6,000 members. It was very well used by the local community and by all ages. My own mother had limited mobility, did not drive or use local buses, but she could walk to Langney Shopping Centre with her trolley, do her shopping and visit the library.

We have had tremendous support for this project from the owners and the manager of Langney Shopping Centre who recognise the value of the library to the local community.

We were also encouraged by the statement from East Sussex County Council that they were going to work with community groups to support their plans to take over the running of these fantastic community libraries.

So it was very disappointing to discover the reality of that support was sadly lacking. East Sussex County Council initially appeared to say that if they could not reassign the remaining period of the lease to the unit where the library was within a 12 week period, we could then move in and get on with our plans to run the library as a community venture with volunteers, much in the way that Old Town Library very successfully operates.

The closed Langney Library is currently sitting unused, full of the shelves and books and all the library resources.

There is tremendous good will locally, a strong team with very many volunteers already coming forward. However, East Sussex County Council just seem to be putting obstacles in our way.

The initial offer of being able to start our project after the 12 week period has changed and they are now saying that they will consider our proposal after the 12 week period is up, thus delaying any start for many more weeks or probably months.

To the local community this would appear that East Sussex County Council are not supporting our vision to get the library up and running again and do not want this to succeed: they are not working with us but working against us. It is very disappointing.