Hastings community group given go-ahead to re-open library

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A community group has been given the go-ahead to reopen a former library in Hastings.

East Sussex County Council’s lead member for resources, Cllr Nick Bennett, has approved a proposal to lease the Ore Library building to Ore Community Library Group.

The newly-formed group will take on a three-year peppercorn lease for the building, its fixtures and fittings and a selection of stock and run the facility as a Community Library.

The council had agreed last year to lease the building to Ore Community Association, but after the two parties failed to reach agreement, other community groups were invited to come forward.

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Cllr Nick Bennett said: “We’re grateful for the submission of interest from this group and are pleased to be able to support their proposal for a community facility, which I’m sure will be welcomed by people in Ore.”

Ore was one of seven libraries closed by the county council in May last year, part of a revised libraries strategy aimed at creating a modern and sustainable library service in the light of Government funding cuts.

The new strategy included new community and teacher’s library cards, homework and study clubs in libraries and increased outreach work in the county’s most disadvantaged communities.

Councillor Bill Bentley, lead member for communities said: “Ore Community Library Group have shown a real commitment to reopening the building and have put forward a credible plan for its future.

“We look forward to working with the group in the next few months to complete the signing of the lease to enable the group to get the Community Library up and running.”

Jim Breeds, secretary for the Ore Community Library Group, said: “We are thrilled at this decision. I went along to the committee meeting yesterday in County Hall in Lewes to observe the proceedings, and was delighted to be able to report back to the group that we have been successful.

“A lot of hard work has gone into producing our application and business plan, and we are very pleased that we have been given the go ahead.

“Ore is one of the most deprived areas of East Sussex and has a high need for access locally to a good quality library and community hub. We believe that a community library in Ore will be a highly important facility. It will have a vital role to play in widening local residents’ access to quality focused resources (including access to digital resources such as computers, printers and scanners) that will bring both pleasure in reading and enhanced numeracy and literary skills.

“We believe that the services, information and advice that can be provided by Ore Community Library working in tandem with partnership organisations will also have a positive, empowering effect upon the health and well-being of local residents.

“Some local residents are unable to access these resources in Hastings Library or at home. Now that ESCC have made this fantastic decision, there will be much to be done by the group before we are able to reopen the doors to the public, and we will now be working very hard to achieve that as soon as is possible.

“Among the many tasks we now have to complete are raising funds and putting in place a volunteer roster. Volunteers will be crucial to the running and opening hours of this facility.”

Former council-run libraries in Langney, Ringmer, Willingdon and Pevensey Bay have subsequently reopened as community-run facilities while similar plans are also in the pipeline in Polegate.

As with these other Community Libraries, the reopened Ore library will not form part of the statutory library service provided by the county council.