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Future of Thatcham Library to feature in town centre masterplan

THE future of Thatcham Library will be up for discussion in a masterplan being drawn up for the town centre, with a senior councillor questioning if the building is in the right place.

The Liberal Democrat-controlled town council asked West Berkshire Council for £30,000 to be set aside in its budget in March for the toilet and entrance works.

The Conservative-run council turned the bid down though, saying that a review of all libraries was planned this year.

Thatcham Library Ref:06-3216B (46679046)
Thatcham Library Ref:06-3216B (46679046)

Executive member for culture Howard Woollaston (Con, Lambourn) said in April that the council was looking at redeveloping the former Walnut Close care home site, which closed last year as it would have been too costly to run.

He added that the library and nearby Thatcham Medical Practice could be included in the scheme, along with affordable housing to help pay for the redevelopment.

However he added it was "blue sky thinking".

Howard Woollaston (48494449)
Howard Woollaston (48494449)

He said: "It's aspirational. It's not something we can say is going to happen."

As reported in last week's Newbury Weekly News, the district council will be conducting a Thatcham masterplanning exercise looking at ways to improve the town centre following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a meeting last week, Mr Woollaston said: "We want to improve the library provision in Thatcham.

"We want your input on whether that location is best for it now and whether it could be moved."

Thatcham Library Ref:06-3216C (46679044)
Thatcham Library Ref:06-3216C (46679044)

Mark Lillycrop (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) asked "if the library were to stay in that location, are you talking about making it a substantially larger building?"

Mr Woollaston said it would be "a much larger library, close to double the size, with affordable housing above".

He added: "I just question whether it's the right location for the library."

Thatcham Town Council has contributed around £24,000 each year for the last three years to help keep the town library open following the district council having to make £17m of cuts in 2017.

Following the decision to put in a public toilet, Owen Jeffery (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) said: "We don't want to be forever giving a contribution and not getting anything in return.

"We need a bigger, better library anyway and that's not Thatcham Town Council's responsibility to put in place."

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