A trailblazing Lancashire town council has won its bid to run a former library as a theatre and set up an independent community library.
The county council has announced that, subject to final agreement on transfer terms, ownership of both the Penwortham Library and Penwortham Young People’s Centre will transfer to the local Town Council.
But the community of Lostock Hall is preparing to say a final farewell to its former library and children’s centre after the county announced it was putting them up for sale, along with Padiham Young People’s Centre and Rosegrove Library in Burnley.
The community asset transfers and sell offs follow the council’s controversial cost cutting property review.
It is expected the new ‘Penwortham Library Theatre’ will become a community hub for many of the local arts and voluntary community groups within the town. The Liverpool Road building will also house a town information desk, a small museum of town artefacts and provide a venue for local community groups to meet and promote their activities.
The county council will help kickstart the new community-run library in the former Penwortham Young People’s Centre building, with £5,000 for public internet access, shelving and set-up costs, an initial supply of books from the county’s store and advice from a community library manager. An annual grant of £1,000 to provide public internet access will continue.
Penwortham Town Coun clerk Marie Dardis said: “It’s not possible to comment yet because it’s such an early stage and we need to speak to all the councillors.”
County Coun David Borrow, the county council’s deputy leader said: “Through our property strategy we are making sure we have the buildings we need to provide good access to good services, while making some of the huge savings we need make due to ongoing government cuts and rising demand for services.
“We received more than 60 business cases from community groups interested in taking over a variety of buildings and have been considering those proposals very carefully. We have been particularly taking into account the longer term sustainability of what is being proposed, and the buildings’ market value, bearing in mind that asset transfer will mean forgoing funds which could be raised by selling them.”
He continued: “This is a time-consuming process but we have a duty to do things properly. I’m very pleased that we have been able to take this decision, in principle, to hand over two more buildings, this time to Penwortham Town Council, and make a decision on a further four buildings we no longer need.”
• Decisions are still awited on the future of Preston’s former Museum of Lancashire, the Judges’ Lodgings museum at Lancaster and two textile museums.