It’s a year since Ore Library closed its doors – the community facility was axed as part of a round of spending cuts by East Sussex County Council (ESCC).
Shortly before its closure local Conservatives – during the election campaign for Hastings Borough Council (HBC) – proclaimed they had ‘saved’ the library for the community and that the much-loved facility would remain open, to be run by the Ore Community Association on limited hours each week.
A year on the library remains closed and more and more local people are asking why: “So Ore Library? What’s happening? Anyone in authority care to answer us?” asked Ali Maselli on the ‘Save Ore Library’ facebook group in February.
Ore’s representative on HBC, Andrew Battley, replied saying: “…we understand the lease is still being agreed.” Since then, however there has been a deafening silence.
In June last year it all looked very hopeful when we reported: “Plans to reopen five recently closed East Sussex libraries as community-run facilities have taken a step closer to fruition – and Ore library is one of those on the list.
“ESCC has agreed to provide books, furniture and shelving to enable Ringmer Library to be reopened as a community library run by Ringmer Village Hall Management Committee which owns the building.
“Meanwhile, the council is recommending approval of plans for community libraries at four other libraries it either owns or leases – Ore, Pevensey Bay, Polegate and Willingdon – with a final decision to be taken by the lead member for resources in June 2018.”
So what happened?
When we asked ESCC for an official word they told us: “Talks are still ongoing with Ore Community Association regarding reopening Ore Library as a community facility. Unfortunately, we don’t have a planned opening date at present.”
Laurie Loe, the County Councillor representing Ore told us things were taking longer than expected as the council completed its due diligence. He said that when ESCC is transferring an asset to a community organisation the council has a responsibility to make sure that, “everything is going to be run properly”.
He said that he was disappointed that the library had been closed for so long but said a longer closure was preferable if that ensured the survival of the library when it eventually reopens, “I’d rather it be closed a year to be able to continue for another ten years than it be shut for a week but only survive six months when it reopens.”
He says that ESCC wants to ensure that Ore Community Association has all the resources in place to be able sustain the service: “This is a big commitment for the community association to take on,” he said.
Chairman of the Ore Community Association Terry Fawthrop is confident the association does have the necessary resources to make a success of the library when it manages to open it. He says they already have volunteers ready to man the facility and one of the association’s trustees will oversee the running of the project.
Mr Fawthrop says that some of the delay has been caused by ‘unfounded’ and ‘malicious’ accusations that were made anonymously against the association: “That meant the county council had to hold back and because of the delay the business plan we had prepared was then out of date and we have had to re-do and re-submit that to the county council.”
Mr Fawthrop says the association is now finalising paperwork with the Charities Commission and while he is unable to say just when he expects the library to be open again he hopes that will happen sometime during the summer.
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