Darlington Borough Council is being asked to consider a proposal that would save Cockerton Library, which has been threatened due to austerity cutbacks.
A steering group including a number of community businesses and organisations has been working over recent months to put together a plan which would see the building remain open as a library/community hub.
The proposal, which has been submitted for council consideration with a decision due to made by councilors in January, has been based on discussions with local businesses including John Whitehouse Funeral Directors, Darlington Building Society and Cockerton Post Office, community groups including the Cockerton Community and Business Forum and Darlington for Culture, and third sector bodies including Age UK Darlington.
It envisages the formation of a Community Benefit Society, a form of Co-operative, to run the library in partnership with the Council.
The proposals include:
A library – run by a professional librarian, supported by volunteers and the local authority’s systems and book stock.
An IT centre – for people to access information online, apply for jobs and benefits and improve their digital skills.
Space and resources for the local community – to be developed in line with the wishes of local people and businesses.
Steering group chair John Whitehouse, who runs a funeral business in Cockerton, said: “Darlington Council has presented an opportunity for a unique partnership of the public, private and third sectors to come together to achieve this.
“The ambition of local people and businesses is for Cockerton Library to thrive, not just survive and the proposal is based on developing the building as a vibrant library and community hub. The local community, local business and the local authority would all play their part.
“We are very pleased that the council has invited us to work with them to save Cockerton. We have a very credible plan with great partners which we hope the Council will accept.”
John Dean, Chair of Darlington for Culture, said: “The idea is to run an excellent library and hub that will enrich community life, encourage literacy and improve access to information and resources while also bringing in visitors to support the local economy.”
Subject to the council approving the bid in January, the steering group will organise a series of events to seek the Cockerton community’s involvement in the project and recruit volunteers.
Councillor Nick Wallis, Cabinet Portfolio holder for Leisure and the Local Environment, said: “We are pleased that such a bid is being submitted and we hope that the bid is the start of a long and fruitful partnership that will see the Library prosper at Cockerton.”