Local MP Alan Mak and Emsworth councillors are urging residents to sign-up for their community campaign to keep Emsworth Library open.
Hampshire County Council (HCC) are currently consulting on the future of its Library Services around Hampshire, including Emsworth Library. HCC believe that Emsworth Library is under-used and the rent for the building that houses the Library is too high. Options for its future include reducing opening hours, greater community involvement in its operation, moving the Library to a cheaper site or complete closure.
Both Mr Mak and the Emsworth councillors have been in close contact with the HCC Cabinet member with responsibility for libraries, Cllr Sean Woodward, including organising a meeting to discuss the issue where they called on Cllr Woodward to keep the Library open.
Mr Mak said: “I want Emsworth Library to stay open, and I will be working with local councillors and the community to persuade Hampshire County Council to keep the Library even if it moves to a new location with cheaper rent. Libraries are about more than books – they are an important community hub. My meeting with Cllr Woodward was very constructive and I am pleased that Hampshire County Council is open to new solutions to provide library services in Emsworth.”
Mr Mak and the local councillors hope to find a solution that would involve a new town centre location but retaining services maintained by HCC on a daily basis, such as a full-time librarian. This would enable HCC to make substantial savings on rent and business rates.
Emsworth Borough Councillor Lulu Bowerman said: “Emsworth councillors share residents’ concern and disappointment about the potential closure of our Library which is such an important facility for so many in our community. We will continue working with the local community groups, Ray Bolton our county councillor and Alan Mak MP to explore all options to maintain a County Council run library in our town."
While the consultation is ongoing Mr Mak is also calling on residents to sign-up to his community campaign. You can do this by visiting AlanMak.org.uk/EmsworthLibrary. This will then be turned into a petition that can be presented to Cllr Woodward and other decision-makers at HCC.
Mr Mak added: “I’m asking Emsworth residents to sign-up for our Emsworth Library Campaign, helping me emphasise to Hampshire County Council that this is an subject important to many people in the community. I’ll also be sending out regular updates to those that sign-up.”
Hampshire County Councillor Ray Bolton said: “I also urge residents who care about the issue to use the Library so its usage figures rise and respond to the consultation. Currently the response to the consultation is lower from Emsworth than from other affected areas, so we need to make sure decision-makers know the strength of feeling in Emsworth.”
County Councillor Bolton also asked Cllr Woodward at a Main County Council meeting on 13 February, to confirm that no decisions have been taken in relation to Libraries and that there are many options for consideration as to their future operation. Cllr Woodward in his answer, provided this confirmation to all the County Councillors.
You can respond to the HCC consultation here https://www.hants.gov.uk/aboutthecouncil/haveyoursay/consultations/library-consultation
Photo caption: Alan with local councillors and Cllr Sean Woodward, HCC Cabinet member with responsibility for libraries