Worries over future of another library

This Is Wiltshire: Coun Jim Robbins has asked for clarity over the future of the library in West Swindon. Picture: THOMAS KELSEY Buy this photo Coun Jim Robbins has asked for clarity over the future of the library in West Swindon. Picture: THOMAS KELSEY

CLARITY is being sought over the future of the West Swindon Library as it is up for discussion in talks to transfer the Link Centre to private companies.

A motion will be brought to full council next week asking for a full report into the future of the library, after opening hours at the library in Old Town were scaled back to 18 hours a week.

The cabinet has said calls for confirmation are premature as talks are still ongoing, and said there will always be library provision of some kind in West Swindon.

Coun Jim Robbins, (Lab, Mannington and Western), will move the motion.

“We just want to get a bit of information about exactly what is going to happen to the library,” he said. “At the moment we understand it is not part of the lease, so we were under the impression it would stay in the Link Centre and there would be a similar level of service.

“It is now apparent that is not the case at the Old Town library.

“We are just trying to get a bit more information about exactly what it means. We need to know if the opening times are going to be protected.

“If there is going to be a three- year clause to the lease, does that mean the library is only going to be safe for three years?

“We have had conversations around this and that is partly why we are moving this motion.

“The message he was giving out was a bit different from those he has been saying in the past, where he said very much that the library was going to be protected, but at the last meeting that changed to say it will be protected for a period of time. This is about getting some clarity.

“The West Swindon Library is a very popular resource. It is hugely well attended and is usually really busy.

“Swindon is lucky because it has got a really good library provision, and the onus is on us as councillors to protect that.

“What I do not want is for the library to become an uinintended casualty of the leisure sell off.”

Coun Keith Williams, cabinet member for highways, strategic transport and leisure, said the motion was electioneering.

“People are jumping to try to make conclusions where there isn’t enough information available at the moment,” he said.

“We are still in negotiations with people with a view to the transfer of leisure facilities. Part of that is about co-location of facilities.

“We do not just have a library there, there is also the Swindon Wildcats and a number of other groups.

“One thing we want to do is to ensure we still have the same level of provision after the transfer.

“We have been discussing in the past about moving the library within the Link Centre itself, because we have all those shop fronts, and there would be potential to have a gym in there.

“All these things are being discussed, and we would not be doing our jobs properly if we did not pursue options to maximise facilities.

“There will always be a library in West Swindon, and in all probability it will be in the Link Centre.”

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