Council Welcomes Library Business Plans


Community run library services in Dorset are one step closer to reality following a Cabinet meeting on 6th March. Seven communities have submitted business plans to take over future running of the local library service with support from Dorset County Council.

Cabinet members approved the latest proposals, and the finer details of the plans will now be developed to allow for a handover of control in September this year.
The seven community libraries include Chickerell, Puddletown, Wool, Burton Bradstock, Charmouth, Colehill and Stalbridge. If plans progress, they will be fully independent and self-governed but supported with staffing, books and IT services worth £5,500 each year.

The Cabinet recognised the efforts of local communities and approved the gift of a freehold or long leasehold interest in the library buildings which the county council owns. They also agreed that the council would continue the support on a rolling three-year basis with consideration to be given as to whether this could be extended to up to five years on a rolling basis. A request for additional support from communities regarding building maintenance and repairs was discussed, and the council has agreed to ensure that all the buildings are in a reasonable state of repair before handover.

The council will meet with representatives of all seven community libraries and AdLib to discuss plans in more detail.

It has not been possible to achieve a community-led approach for Portland Underhill library. This means funding will be withdrawn and the library will close its doors on 28 April. However, a mobile library will visit on a regular basis. Both the Parish Council and local county councillor have requested further discussions about the future of Corfe Castle library, and a meeting will be scheduled to look at proposals in the near future.

Dorset County Council's head of community services Paul Leivers, said: “It is very encouraging that seven of the community libraries look likely to remain open. We look forward to working with them further to develop the final details, including support which can be given. We are also looking to discuss and agree any essential building work required prior to the hand-over to ensure buildings are in a reasonable condition within the budget available.”

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