Launceston Town Council rejects offer to take over the running of town’s library

By Amy Dennis in Local People

LAUNCESTON Town Council has rejected Cornwall Council’s current offers to take on the running of the town library — describing one option as having ‘unacceptable’ future financial implications.

The town council held an extraordinary meeting last week to consider a paper presented by Cornwall Council regarding the devolution of the library service — it was unanimously resolved that the town council ‘could not accept either of the two options presented’.

There is the potential for Launceston Library on Bounsalls Lane to be devolved from Cornwall Council to the town council.

Last year the town council submitted a document to Cornwall Council listing the terms on which it would consider taking on the running of the library, but it is understood the local authority rejected the town council’s conditions.

Since then, the town council and local authority have been in talks as to under what conditions the town council may consider taking on the running of the library.

The town council was presented with two options from Cornwall Council, which were considered at last week’s meeting — neither council has released details of the options, but town councillor John Conway has submitted a freedom of information request for the details of the options to be made public — see letters, page 4.

Town clerk Christopher Drake said: “Option one was lacking in the necessary detail and the town council considered the financial burden and future financial implications unacceptable to the town.

“In regards to option two, as Cornwall Council agree that Launceston is a key site within North Cornwall, the option was considered inadequate to meet the needs of the town and the surrounding area.

“The town council unanimously resolved in June 2016 to submit proposals for devolution of the library and remains committed to further discussions in order to guarantee that Launceston receives the level of service that such a recognised key site deserves.”

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said: “Over the past four years we have been working with a wide range of partners to keep our libraries and information services open in the face of significant cuts in funding from the Government. In the majority of sites local councils and community organisations are working with us towards taking on the running of their local library.

“We are grateful to our town and parish council and community organisation partners for working with us, to protect their local library services for their communities. Many local councils have increased their precepts to be able to take on a devolved library service.

“This is a time of great change for everyone and we are also grateful to our library and information service staff for their hard work and professionalism. We do not wish to reduce library services, however with continued Government funding cuts we all have to accept that council services must change to deliver the savings.

“Where we have not received any local interest to take on a devolved service, or a viable proposal could not be found, as in Launceston, we appreciate that people will be concerned about the future of their library service.

“There are alternative options available and Cornwall Council are pleased that Launceston Town Council wish to contribute to the discussions to identify a solution that will ensure some level of library provision can be maintained in Launceston.”

Liberal Democrat Cornwall Councillor for Launceston South Jade Farrington said: “Services tend to be best run locally by the people who use them. It’s a shame an agreement couldn’t be reached but it’s a big commitment for a town council to take on.

“Fortunately Cornwall Council has said Launceston Library is a strategic service so it will be staying open, and I’m pleased we’ll probably see longer opening hours instated thanks to the likely addition of a card access system.”

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