The head of the group vying to save the future of Wainfleet library has spoken of her fears for it’s future and the local museum.
Sarah Baird, of the ‘Our Wainfleet Library and community Club’ group, explained how Wainfleet Library, housed in the ground floor of a Grade One listed building is under threat.
The Scheduled Ancient Monument, which is currently leased to Lincolnshire County Council (on a full repairing and insuring lease), from Magdalen College, Oxford, shares the upper floor with the Magdalen Museum.
“If the Library shuts the Museum will too, Lincolnshire County Council are responsible for most of the overheads, as well as the fabric of the building, the electricity bill alone is £2,500, money the Museum do not have,” said Sarah.
“The fear is that if the library closes, Wainfleet will also lose the Magdalen Museum, leaving the bulding probably boarded up to deter vandals”, she added.
However, at a public meeting in January, following the decision to shut 30 Lincolnshire libraries in December, a group showed an expression of interest in running the library to stop the library shutting on May, 6.
The Library will now remain open from May 6, (at 60 percent of hours) until March 31, 2015 at the latest, or sooner if the group are able to prove that they are competent to run the Library.
However, from May 6, opening hours are reducing from 14 hours to 8.
Sarah Baird said: “This means that all the primary school children in the area have access to less than one hour in the week and three hours on a Saturday, and all the secondary school children, the majority of whom travel on public transport and school buses during the week, only access on a Saturday.”
“Our initial expression of interest was rejected as it was not on the correct form and did not score enough points, but we have until March 31, to produce a full business case to run the non-statutory community hub. To do that we need the support of people willing to donate their time to prove that we have the capacity, not just face-to-face in the library, but behind the scenes.”
A spokesperson for Lincolnshire libraries said: “The new hours were based on a 40 percent reduction, and a desire to protect Saturday opening times.”
Counc Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “We’re determined to keep all of
Lincolnshire’s libraries open, but we can only do this with the support of local communities. We’re currently helping the groups that have come forward to develop strong business plans that will ensure the long-term future of our smaller libraries, like the one in Wainfleet”
“Successful communities will receive a comprehensive support package, including more than £5,000 per year to put towards their running costs and ongoing professional advice.
Groups can also get a one-off grant of £15,000 to help set up their facility, with the council maintaining the exterior of the buildings on which it has the freehold, he added.
In the meantime, the council will continue to run the existing libraries at reduced hours for up to a year, giving volunteers plenty of time to lay firm foundations for the future,” Coun Worth concluded.
Independent Coun for Wainfleet and Burgh Le Marsh, Chris Pain said: “I was totally against the proposed closure of our libraries. I have been working hard within the parameters that have been set to save the Magdalen library and museum, plus the building.”
“Having organised the original public meeting to highlight it’s plight, to having extensive discussions with LCC directors, Magdalen Oxford College and Savills.
In a conversation over the weekend, it was indicated that my proposal, that the group will only be responsible for the inside of the building and not be liable for the up keep of the exterior of the grade one listed building should be accepted. Although things have to be finalised. This could mean that the library, museum and building could be saved. I am forward looking to confirming this in the near future,” Coun Pain added.
The ‘Our Wainfleet Library and community Club’ have now set up a website found at www.owlchub.weebly.com.