Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Sidmouth Library: revamp £600k or £100k

The Library is a much-used and much-loved community facility, for example:
Sidmouth Library hosts Betjeman talk - News - Sidmouth Herald

And as of next week, it will be closed for a month:

Revamp will shut Sidmouth Library for five weeks

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

MAJOR transformation of Sidmouth Library will leave it shut for more than five weeks when work begins next month.The six-figure Devon County Council (DCC) project to refurbish and improve the Blackmore Drive hub will see it closed from Thursday, September 12, to Wednesday, October 23.
Authority chiefs say alternative arrangements are being put in place to ‘minimise any inconvenience’ - including additional hours at nearby Ottery St Mary Library. This will be open an extra one-and-a-half days a week on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 5pm from Thursday, September 19, to Thursday, October 17.
DCC chiefs have promised that the new-look Sidmouth Library will have a ‘more flexible’ layout – so space can be ‘maximised for a wider variety of purposes and activities’ at different times. There will also be improved access for children, young people and their families, including moving the children’s library from the first floor to the ground floor and creating a more attractive ‘teen zone’. In addition, there will be a dedicated quiet reading and study area, and the ‘general ambience of the library will be improved by making it brighter and more welcoming to encourage visitors’. Funding has also been set aside to purchase new stock for the library. The council has pledged the choice of books will also be improved and a new layout for the shelving will make it easier to navigate.
Councillor Roger Croad, DCC cabinet member for communities, said: “I’m sure this revamp will turn Sidmouth Library into a modern and flexible facility that is fit for the changing needs of the community and that everyone wants to use and can be proud of.” Mr Croad has also encouraged residents to ‘make good use’ of libraries in Honiton and Seaton during the closure in Sidmouth.
Revamp will shut Sidmouth Library for five weeks - News - Sidmouth Herald 

Whilst Devon County has managed to secure its library service, substantial cuts have been made over the last couple of years:
Cabinet () - Wed Jul 13 2011
BBC News - Devon libraries face opening hours cuts
View From Online - News from West Dorset, East Devon & South Somerset

... which has led to concerns about the new services:
‘Don’t replace staff with machines’ - say library users - Education - Sidmouth Herald
Not caring - Letters - Sidmouth Herald

There had been the promise of £600k to spend on the Library - which would have impacted the neighbouring Health Centre:

New Sidmouth health centre hopes revealed

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
2:04 PM
DOCTORS fear their hopes of a brand new health centre and library for Sidmouth will be “dead in the water” if £600,000 set aside for the project is lost. GPs this week revealed their proposed vision for a complete rebuild of facilities in Blackmore Drive for the first time – as the fate of the crucial county council funding hangs in the balance.

Dr Duncan Hall hit back over claims he and colleagues needed to “sort themselves out” – branding comments by county councillors Roger Croad and Stuart Hughes as “bizarre” and “galling”. Dr Hall said practice leaders thought negotiations with Devon County Council (DCC) were going to plan until they read remarks in the Herald last Friday. Dr Hall refuted claims GPs ‘couldn’t make up their minds’ over a project to completely re-develop both the health centre and library.
A sum of £600,000 has been set aside for library improvements for four years. “We don’t know if the money is gone,” said Dr Hall. “Our impression was if it had gone then the project was dead in the water. This is tax-payers money, so what do the people want to see? They have to choose between a brand new health centre and library, or sticking with it as it is. The people of Sidmouth should be able to make the decision.”
Sidmouth county councillor Mr Hughes said he was fighting to ensure the cash was spent in his ward. He said yesterday that talks were on-going, and DCC leader John Hart was now involved. “I don’t think it’s fair on library users to lose that money,” said Cllr Hughes. “We have got to get this sorted out. The money is not gone - it’s still Sidmouth’s.”
Intransigence? - Letters - Sidmouth Herald
Sidmouth GPs may lose £600k DCC money - News - Sidmouth Herald

HOPES of a brand new health centre and library in Sidmouth have been dashed after a vital £500,000 of funding was withdrawn, campaigners claim. “Flabbergasted” doctors and patient representatives say Devon County Council (DCC) has “scaled back” cash it’s willing to commit to a library revamp by 80 per cent. 

GPs – who’ve had to treat patients out of cupboards in their unfit-for-purpose current premises – say the money would have been a “catalyst for a long overdue project”.They’ve led a campaign for a complete rebuild of both Blackmore Drive properties, and said £600,000 - earmarked by DCC for a library refurbishment - has been cut to £100,000. GPs had funding for the health centre element of their scheme.
Health centre staff and Sid Valley Patients Forum Group leaders said in a statement: “Failure in getting DCC to earmark funding for a library rebuild is a major setback. In this case failure is not an option. The health centre at present is not fit for purpose and makes delivering medical support to the community over the coming years extremely challenging. The doctors and patient forum will have to go back to the drawing board - but not for too long. This is a community project and we hope all councillors will endorse these efforts. Sidmouth residents will realise that the energy put into a health centre rebuild goes back years and that no alternative sites met the needs for the centre for the decades ahead - particularly where quick access by the doctors to the hospital will remain a priority. The health centre rebuild is almost an impossibility without the full co-operation of the library. A new surgery must have access for ambulances, and at present this fundamental criteria is not being met. Dr Duncan Hall, who’s spearheaded negotiations, was flabbergasted with this news - particularly in view of extensive efforts that have been made.”
A DCC spokesman said: “We’ll respond directly to Dr Hall and the patients forum on this matter in the very near future.”
New Sidmouth health centre hopes “dashed” - News - Sidmouth Herald 
Campaigners to carry on Sidmouth Health Centre fight - News - Sidmouth Herald

Meanwhile, following a consultation exercise
Feedback delays Sidmouth Library re-vamp - News - Sidmouth Herald
the County will be spending over £100k on the Library: 
Sidmouth Library • <a style="font-size:0.8em;" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/27734467@N04/9499320629/" target="_blank">View on Flickr</a>
The new-look library will have a more flexible layout so that the use of space can be maximised for a wider variety of purposes and activities at different times

Residents share vision for Sidmouth Library | News centre

And so the Library will be closed for a month as of next week.

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