A forward-thinking community group looks set to become the first, in Bath and North East Somerset, to take over the running of a library combined with a post office.
Plans to hand the running of Saltford Library to the community are currently being finalised as part of a Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Modern Libraries programme.
The intention is for the building to be leased to Saltford Community Association and start a new chapter as a community-run library. Cabinet Member Councillor Karen Warrington is being asked to give officers the authority to finalise the move.
If all goes to plan it will be the very first library to be taken over by the community and Saltford Community Association will also be saving the Post Office which would otherwise close.
The aim is to ensure the future of the library and maintain a comprehensive and vital service for residents in and around Saltford.
John Davies, Chair, Saltford Community Association (SCA) said: “Since November last year we have been working closely with Bath & North East Somerset Council Library Services to find a way for Saltford to retain both a local library and a local post office, the latter closing just before Christmas. These are extremely important local community assets, valued both by local residents and, in the case of the Post Office, by local businesses as well.
“The community association could not see a way of keeping the library open on its own. However, in conjunction with operating a post office from within the same premises we strongly believe that, with community support, both can be viable. We are therefore delighted that B&NES is prepared to grant a lease on the current library building, to a not-for-profit subsidiary of the SCA charity.
“We already have an almost complete management team in place for this subsidiary and are pressing ahead with our application to reopen a post office in the library building. We have also been overwhelmed with the response from local residents volunteering to help in some way, and this will in fact see the library open for considerably more hours than has been possible for many years. We are also grateful to Post Offices Ltd and to Saltford Parish Council for their strong support in making this happen, we hope by the end of April 2018.”
A report before Councillor Warrington (Conservative, Clutton) Cabinet Member for transformation and customer services, says the proposal put forward by Saltford Community Association includes both library services and the provision of post office services in the building.
Bath & North East Somerset Council is providing a £5,000 one-off investment as part of the transfer to support the community association. The transfer, if approved, will save the authority £38,500 annually.
A report says the management of the building would transfer to the association and the building would also be leased to it.
Councillor Karen Warrington said: “I have been asked to consider this option, which would allow two valuable resources, the library and post office, to be kept in the community by a forward-thinking community association.
“Staff, residents and councillors have all been consulted about the proposal, which meets Bath & North East Somerset Council’s aims of investing in the future and putting the interests of residents first and will help to sustain libraries as valuable community assets.”