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New lease could see Wash Common Library open

Newbury Town Council set to consider renting the building for five years

THERE is renewed hope for those campaigning to have Wash Common Library reopened.

The building has been closed since April 2017 after West Berkshire Council said it could no longer afford to run it.

The closure was one of several measures taken by the local authority to save around £580,000 a year within the library service.

However, there is now a glimmer of hope for the future.

Newbury Town Council is considering an offer from the district council to lease the building for a nominal rent for five years.

Following the closure of the library, a community group known as The Friends of Wash Common Library was formed, with the aim of restoring the service.

Speaking at West Berkshire Council’s executive meeting on Thursday, June 14, Dominic Boeck – the council’s portfolio holder for health, wellbeing, leisure and culture – described it as “a great opportunity” for both the Friends group and Newbury Town Council.

Mr Boeck said: “The Wash Common Library was well used and popular among the residents.

“I am very pleased that The Friends of Wash Common Library have developed, with the support of the ward members, a business plan that is based upon support from residents and grant funding.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for residents and is a reflection of the encouragement given to the parish and town councils to take more responsibility for their own assets.”

Under the proposal. the town council would be liable for the peppercorn rent, while The Friends will also be expected to pay all utilities and operational costs for the services they provide from the building.

Newbury Town Council leader Adrian Edwards (Con, Falkland) said: “As a ward member for Falkland, I am very keen for the library service at Wash Common to reopen.

“It is a valuable resource for residents and I am pleased that the town council are able to work together with The Friends Group and West Berkshire Council to enable this to happen.

“I commend the Friends group for their initiative and hard work and I can assure them of the town council’s support for the service.”

Newbury Town Council would like to hear residents’ views over the decision to rent the library building at Wash Common via a public consultation.

Responses can be made by email to consultations@newbury.gov.uk, in writing to Newbury Town Council, or online at https://forms.newbury. gov.uk/wash-common-library-public-consultation

The consultation closes at midnight on Sunday, July 8.

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