Steering Group Set Up To Save Shepley Library

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Villagers have agreed to set up a brand new community steering group to help safeguard the future of Shepley's library building. The agreement was made at a special village meeting held in the library on Monday. We are now looking for more volunteers from across the community to join this group.

Around 25 people attended the meeting amid concerns that plans were already in place to transfer the building's assets into a CIC (Community Interest Company) without properly consulting with local people. But organisers from the village reassured residents that this was not the case, that plans were at a very early stage, and that cross-wide community support was vital to the library's future.

Villagers were told that the meeting was a 'watershed moment'; that the building would close in March 2017 if the community did not get behind an initiative to save it. And that some difficult questions needed to be asked in order to find definitive answers.

Poor turnout

For example, was there a real need for the village to keep the library building? Would people use it? It was disappointing that the meeting was not well attended. Serious questions were asked about whether the library building was worth saving based upon the poor turnout.

Representatives from Kirklees Council were available to answer any questions. It became clear that there are two separate issues concerning the library: (1) the building itself and (2) library services. The future of library services is out of our hands as Kirklees Council will start a 3-month consultation process later this month. It's anticipated that the library services budget will be cut from just under £6 million to either £2.5 million or £3.9 million. The budget decision is expect in February 2015 in the middle of the consultation.

Agreement

The majority of villagers present agreed that the library building should be saved for community use through an asset transfer. Attendees acknowledged the need to diversify the building's use to safeguard its future. It was hoped that the library and information services would remain in the building following the asset transfer, but this was dependant upon the Council's decision.

Volunteers came forward to join a brand new, independent Community Steering Group for the library. The group will meet for the first time this month to look at the proposed legal structure for an asset transfer and to start developing a sustainable business plan.

We will hold another Special Village Meeting in January 2015 to present the ideas of the steering group and to agree the next steps. Whilst a CIC is currently the preferred option of the meeting's organisers, the Steering Group may disagree and recommend something else.

Community involvement

But, we need more community-wide involvement. We're looking for villagers with ideas, the time, commitment and drive to take a leading role in shaping the building's future. We're particularly interested in people with skills in making grant applications, finance, building partnerships, project management, and creativity.

We want to transform the library building into a vibrant but safe community hub for all to enjoy. And we want your help to do it! For further information please contact us library@shepleyvillage.org.