Proposals for the remodelling of Bath Central Library at the Podium have been put on hold by Bath & North East Somerset Council.
The scheme proposes a number of council and partner services move into a new-look library alongside the closure of the existing one stop shop in Manvers Street.
The decision to freeze the proposal follows a review of capital projects in the light of challenging council budget pressures which require £50m of savings over the next five years and as a result no remodelling work will be carried out at this time on the Podium site.
The council remains committed to a library at the Podium in Bath and its successful wider Modern Libraries programme of capital investment to secure the future of the library service in Bath and North East Somerset.
The programme also includes more community-run libraries, a mobile service, more integrated library and information services as in Keynsham and Midsomer Norton, and new ways of working. The programme is saving £350,000 annually.
The council continues to improve access to library services across the area for example by replacing the mobile library vehicle, extending the ‘click and collect’ scheme for books through the roll-out of more community libraries, which see volunteers run local library services with the support of professional library staff. The ‘Love Weston’ Community library opened in October, joining the new Saltford community library which also incorporates a post office. In addition, a new community library has recently opened in Bishop Sutton, with Timsbury opening at the end of the month and more in the pipeline.
Councillor Karen Warrington, Cabinet Member for Transformation and Customer Services, said:
“I am committed to providing a modern and sustainable library service across our area, despite the very challenging budget savings we have to make. We have seen local support for community libraries across the district including at Weston and Moorland Road libraries in Bath. As a result, we have been able to make savings and secure local provision by working with local communities, and I want to see more of that.
“However our proposals for Bath central library have been more complex and have not always been well-received by everyone. With this in mind and with a challenging budget to set ahead of us, the decision has been made to freeze further work at the Podium but continue to deliver on other improvements identified as part of the Modern Libraries programme. It has been a difficult decision to make but a prudent one and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the design proposals for the library to date and who continue to support the library service.”