Stansted Library offered short-term deal by Essex County Council

PUBLISHED: 15:26 11 March 2019

Stansted Library protest. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Stansted Library protest. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Roger King

Essex County Council (ECC) has agreed to foot the bill for the refit of Stansted Library while contributing £10,000 towards the rent of a new building.

The council previously agreed to rent library space in a new building, at a cost of £13,000 per year plus a contribution to running costs, for a 10-year period.

However, the authority launched a library consultation earlier this year that could see the facility close in 2020.

While the consultation on the future of the library is carried out, ECC has agreed a one-year lease for the facility in the new building, which is due to open in April, at a cost of £10,000.

Stansted Labour Party has given a “cautious welcome” to the news, but warns that the fight is not over to save it from closure.

Party spokesman Daniel Brett said: “The parish council was forced to hike its precept by around 10 per cent to cover a shortfall that was mostly related to the uncertainty over the lease. It would have been better for residents if ECC could have listened to parish protests months ago so that the parish did not have to resort to raise taxes.

“If Stansted and Thaxted libraries are closed, Labour will urge Uttlesford to step in and pay for the rent, totalling £20,000 across both libraries, and the cost of librarian staff to cover the opening hours as well as creating user groups. This could cost up to £50,000 per annum and is well within the means of UDC’s communities and partnerships budget.”

But Stansted’s Liberal Democrat district councillor Alan Dean said a “half-price, one year-deal is pathetic” and called on county councillor Ray Gooding to back the new library.

“It’s time for Ray to declare whether he fully backs Stansted’s new library. He should insist that the county council pays in full its dues to the parish council,” Cllr Dean said.

Cllr Gooding said: “I have been instrumental in ensuring that the library will move into the new community hub in time for its opening in a few weeks’ time; ensured that a short-term licence for ECC’s occupation is in place pending the outcome of the consultation and provision is available for the community to prove their use of the library going forward.

“I would suggest that my quiet diplomacy has been far more supportive and certainly more productive to the future of the Stansted Library than the pointless posturing and banner waving that are the hallmark of Alan Dean and Melvin Caton who, like all Liberal Democrats, are strong on rhetoric but utterly incapable of achieving anything.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council said conversations with the parish council were continuing.

The spokesman said: “An offer has been made to the parish council that does not prejudice the outcome of the consultation.”

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