Bid to reopen Ore library is on the right track at last

It’s all looking positive for community plans to reopen Ore library.

Campaigners were able to get inside the building yesterday and local councillor Heather Bishop says the well stocked library is in great condition and could reopen tomorrow. At the same time they were able to chat to officials from East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and Ms Bishop says those talks were very positive too.

Ore library shut its doors in May 2018 as part of a cost cutting exercise by ESCC. Initially there were high hopes that a bid by the Ore Community Association to reopen the library would be successful but as time dragged on and nothing happened local people became concerned that facility could be lost for good.

Then in June ESCC dropped a bombshell when it announced it was puling the plug on attempts to reach an agreement with Ore Community Association saying: “A year ago we agreed in principle to lease the former Ore library building on a peppercorn rent to the Ore Community Association for a community library to be provided at the site.

“We have been working hard together for the past year to make this work but reluctantly we have come to the view that we are not able to progress with the proposal any further. As no other proposals to run a community library at the site have been received, we will now seek approval to dispose of the site.”

Very quickly a group of local people came together and contacted ESCC saying they wanted a chance to put a bid together – they were given a tight deadline and told their business plan and full detailed proposal had to be with the county council by August 31st. Borough councillor Ms Bishop spearheaded the campaign which has included a series of weekly meetings to keep the momentum and enthusiasm for the project going and after yesterdays talks with county officials she is even daring to dream about a reopening before Christmas.

The last few weeks have been blur of activity for those involved in the project. They’ve held talks with the community groups that have successfully reopened libraries in Ringmer and Langley near Eastbourne and they have been to visit those libraries and find out more about how they are run. They’ve looked at funding options and they have set up a community survey to get the views of people living in Ore about what they want from a reopened library.

When Ms Bishop and some of the other members of the group chatted to ESCC officials yesterday about what they wanted to achieve and how they planned to go about achieving that they heard that while they still need to have a draft business plan with ESCC by August 31st it does not need to be in as great detail as they had initially believed.

While there is still a lot of work to do that has relieved some of the pressure the group was under.

East Sussex County Council spending cuts forced the closure of Ore Library last year.

The business plan will still go to the country council at the end of this month where it will be assessed and then the group will know by the end of October if their proposal has been successful. After yesterday’s meeting Ms Bishop is confident they are on the right track.

Conversations have also taken place with the Ore in Bloom group about tidying up the area around the library building and making it look more attractive and there has been an enthusiastic reaction to that too with Ore in Bloom saying they are happy to support the library plans which include a children’s area at the back of the building.

For Ms Bishop and the rest of the team there is clearly a desire to get things done, she already has a list of projects in mind including a book group, a literacy group and there are plans to ensure the library always stocks the top ten fiction and non-fiction titles. In addition she already has a list of names of potential volunteers all ready to step up and restore the library to its place at the heart of the community.

The Ore Library Community Group will hold it’s next regular meeting on Monday and has a special meeting scheduled later next week to finalise the business plan document that will be sent to ESCC and will determine whether the library’s doors might be open again before the end of the year.

Photographs courtesy of Jim Breeds

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