News Wednesday, January 6th

Council lent a hand over library closure

With Herefordshire Council having to keep Hereford’s main library closed – a community association has lent a hand.

South Wye Community Association (SWCA) has offered the council the opportunity to keep the additional opening hours at Belmont Library until the end of March.

The timing couldn’t be better with the council confirming that the asbestos removal work at the Hereford Library and Museum building in Broad Street will last some five to six weeks from February 1.

Additional opening hours have seen Belmont Library boost its visitor figures by more than 114% between September and November this year, compared with figures for the same period last year.

Hereford Library was closed in September when asbestos was discovered in the building and the opening hours at Belmont Library were increased to mirror the hours that the town library had been open.  

The plan was to revert to regular opening hours after Christmas.

As Herefordshire Council are tenants of SWCA, increasing the extra hours meant a small additional cost was incurred.

However, the term has now been extended to the end of March at no extra charge to Herefordshire Council.

The council says it is “extremely grateful”  to SWCA for the help and support.

Hereford Library was recently open again for the first time in weeks – just for staff to get books and resources out.

But only those books and resources accessible with the Broad Street site still shut down to the public.

The council’s cabinet has approved the spending of £86,000 on the asbestos removal and committed to further funding of £900,000 on the library itself.

But in the background the council is involved in talks with various parties - including Hereford Library Users Group - as to what a future central library for the county could be.

A response to these talks is expected to be with the council by the end of February.

With a return to Broad Street by no means definite given the site’s long-term maintenance needs, a major community fundraising campaign has been proposed to get Hereford the new library many believe is long overdue.

The council acknowledges that it has been looking at alternative sites but does not have sufficient funds of its own to enable such a move.

Regardless of the future for the Broad Street site, work is still required to remove the asbestos.

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