Plans for combined library and bar lead to grilling from Sheffield residents

Walkley Library  hub of the community
Walkley Library hub of the community
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Concerned Sheffield residents have raised fears over the future of a library service which is set to merge with a café and bar.

Walkley Library is on course to become a shared venture between Forum Café Bars and a volunteer-run library.

The proposal is for the bar and library to share space in the South Road building, with separate entrances. The building would be sold to Forum, with the library areas leased back to Sheffield Council for 125 years.

Library users descended on a council scrutiny meeting at the Town Hall to make their voices heard.

Barbara Waterhouse said: “As volunteers we are concerned that if the bar is successful, it might encroach on the space set aside for the library.

“But if the bar is not successful and Forum Café Bars is forced to sell it, what would happen to the area set aside for library services?”

Another library user said: “One of the reasons given for the decision is that it will help stimulate the area through investment and employment opportunities. Our research suggests there is little support in the local business community for such a view.”

Coun Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “In these difficult times, the challenge is to try to ensure services and vibrancy in our communities and I’m worried that if there is a delay we could lose the commercial partner. The last thing I want is a boarded up building in the middle of Walkley. The building is badly in need of repair and this solution, which involves an innovative partnership between local volunteers and the private and public sectors, will make sure there is a highly sustainable community-run library service for years to come.”

The scrutiny panel voted not to take any further action on the decision to allow the sale, and it is now up to Forum Café Bars to submit a planning application.