Community groups are celebrating after county hall announced two beloved libraries have been SAVED from the axe.
Lancashire County Council (LCC) has approved a community asset transfer for the LAMP group to take over the Oswaldtwistle library building on Union Road, and agreed that an independent library can be established in Clayton-le-Moors.
The decision comes after months of campaigning by the Observer and campaign groups to secure the future of under-threat libraries in Hyndburn.
Chris Brindle, chairperson of LAMP, said the whole town is ‘ecstatic’ that Oswaldtwistle library, which celebrated its centenary last year but was ‘mothballed’ along with Clayton Library in September, will be saved.
He said: “Everyone is absolutely thrilled in the town. The announcement just came completely out of the blue, they just said ‘over to you’.
“It was always in the balance, we had competition but I knew we had put forward a really strong case.
“The reaction has been phenomenal. The LAMP group are ecstatic but so are all the people in the town, they were almost brought to tears they were so happy. It’s the best Christmas present we could have wished for.”
LAMP are also proposing to strengthen trade and encourage new business by offering space to entrepreneurs, as well as offer volunteering opportunities to increase people’s employability and reduce social isolation.
It has also been agreed in principle that an independent community library can be established by Mercer House 1842 at the Arthur Wilson Centre in Clayton-le-Moors using the book stock and resources from the former Clayton-le-Moors library - which will remain shut.
Nick Collingridge, chairman of the Mercer House board, said the proposal by LCC to establish an independent library in the Arthur Wilson Centre, which is not a county council building, will now go to the board for approval.
A number of groups, including the Knit and Natter group, have already begun using the centre since Clayton-le-Moors library closed.
LCC say a business proposal for Rishton library is still being considered and assessed to get the level of detail they need to make a final decision regarding its future.
Hyndburn Council Leader, Councillor Miles Parkinson, said: “It’s absolutely wonderful news that Oswaldtwistle and Clayton-le-Moors look set to have their own independent community libraries soon, housed in two much loved iconic buildings, providing a fabulous resource for local people.
“Hyndburn Council has fully supported the bids in the run up to the County Council’s decision, which has meant a lot of hard work and dedication by so many community volunteers, who always give their time, energy and expertise so freely. A huge thank you should go to them.”
The council has also agreed a package of help to establish independent community-run libraries of £5,000 to provide public internet access and cover set-up costs, as well as shelving, an initial supply of books from the county’s store, and advice from a dedicated community library manager. When an independent community library becomes operational, the council will also continue to provide support through an annual grant of £1,000 to provide public internet access.
County Councillor David Borrow, deputy leader for Lancashire County Council, said: “We have received 43 business cases for a variety of buildings, and are now in a position to make a decision about some of them.
"We have considered each of the proposals very carefully, particularly taking into account the longer term sustainability of what is being proposed, and the buildings’ market value, bearing in mind that asset transfer will mean forgoing funds which could be raised by selling them.
“We have also decided to support four proposals to access our package of support to help establish independent, community-run libraries, which will complement the statutory service which the county council provides.
“Services which are owned and run by the community have a particular value as they can respond flexibly to local needs, and I’m very pleased that we’re able to support these proposals which are based on strong business cases.”