Following a meeting between the Bembridge Library User Group and the Isle of Wight council yesterday, the User Group have issued this statement. Ed
On 13 April, the Bembridge Library User Group (BLUG) received an email from Steve Beynon, Chief Executive of Isle of Wight Council. BLUG’s comprehensive response prompted a request for a meeting from the IWC.
The meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon and was billed as a listening exercise where both the IWC and Bembridge Library User Group came together to look at the existing problems and to find a way forward.
- BLUG stated its first preference was that no libraries should close and that professional library staff should run them. BLUG continues to fully support the legal challenge to prevent Isle of Wight Council from closing all libraries.
- Should the legal challenge be unsuccessful, there would be a need for a fallback position – a community library manned by volunteers, facilitated by BLUG and supported by IW Council.
- Assurances were given by IWC that it was not looking for reasons for groups to fail.
- It was already established that TUPE and the Lease were two main issues preventing the fallback plan (the community library) from advancing.
- TUPE – IWC, having completed its staffing exercise, said that it is prepared to indemnify BLUG members against any claims under the legislation. The council said that it would also be prepared to make similar arrangements with other library groups.
- LEASE – IWC has prepared a draft lease which was sent to the Parish Council following the meeting yesterday. The IWC team indicated this was only a start point and as such was open to negotiation on almost every front. Bembridge Parish Council met on Tuesday evening, and was advised that if it was unable to make the whole process work it would fail as our committee did not have the will nor financial ability to take on a full repairing, insuring lease.
- BLUG’s preferred position is that a single lease to be taken out by the Parish Council for the entire site on behalf of the community. It said this could work if the parish office was transferred to the existing Library building and that the current unit was rented or sold. The library service would operate out of the building. The Heritage Centre’s issues will need to be resolved by the IWC.
- The future of the building as a potential Parish Office, Community Library and Heritage Centre is now in the hands of the Parish Council.