When will Ore’s library doors reopen?

PLANS to reopen five recently closed East Sussex libraries as community-run facilities have taken a step closer to fruition – and Ore library is one of those on the list.

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) has already agreed to provide books, furniture and shelving to enable Ringmer Library to be reopened as a community library run by Ringmer Village Hall Management Committee which owns the building.

Meanwhile, the council is recommending approval of plans for community libraries at four other libraries it either owns or leases – Ore, Pevensey Bay, Polegate and Willingdon – with a final decision to be taken by the lead member for resources in June 2018.

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The battle to save Ore Library from closure in the first place was hard fought.

The libraries are among seven which closed at the beginning of May following a major service review prompted by the need to save money due to Government funding cuts and the changing way in which people access library services.

Nick Skelton, ESCC assistant director for communities, said: “We are pleased to have received proposals from all those organisations which expressed an interest in taking over the running of these libraries.

“Although some libraries have closed, we have always been committed to working with communities who wanted to retain a facility in their town or village.

“The proposals we are recommending for approval are those which have in place the necessary expertise and a sound business plan, and which are capable of running without continuing financial support from the council.

“As the libraries in Ore, Pevensey Bay, Polegate and Willingdon are buildings we either own or lease, the final decision on these proposals will be taken by the lead member for resources.”

The proposals for Ore and the others former libraries would see them operating as volunteer-run community libraries with Ore run by Ore Community Association.

In April a volunteer for the community association told Hastings In Focus the plan they were proposing would see the former library open on three mornings per week from 10am until noon and three afternoons from 3pm-5pm. She said she hoped it would also act as an information hub and be accessible to groups including Citizens Advice (CAB) and Hastings Advice and Representation Centre (HARC).

Subject to approval by the lead member, the ESCC would support the bidding organisations by allowing them rent-free use of the building, fixtures and fittings and an initial selection of reading materials for adults and children.

Polegate Town Council’s proposal is to pay the county council to run a community library which would offer a very similar range of services to that which was previously provided by the county at Polegate Library, while it explores options for a long-term, volunteer-run operation.

The libraries closed as part of a modernisation and rationalisation of library services which also includes new community and teacher’s library cards, homework and study clubs in libraries and increased outreach work in the county’s most disadvantaged communities, particularly focusing on improving literacy and numeracy.

The new community libraries would not form part of the statutory library service provided by the council.

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