Talks still ongoing over Sheffield library takeover

Burngreave Library, Pic. Paul David Drabble'www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk
Burngreave Library, Pic. Paul David Drabble'www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk
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A community library is still being run by Sheffield Council - over three months after it was expected to be taken over by volunteers.

The facility in Burngreave was one of 15 libraries which the authority relinquished control of in controversial measures to save £650,000 a year despite lengthy protests from residents.

While the rest of the libraries have been taken over by community groups, most at the end of September or in early October, Burngreave is still being run by librarians employed by the council.

The Friends of Burngreave Library group was preparing a business plan for the library last year.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for communities and public health at the council, said negotiations were continuing but the group was due to meet with the council at the end of next month.

He added: “They have come back to us and asked for more time as they wanted to visit a couple of the co delivered libraries to see what was happening.

“I have always said that we will work to the community groups’ pace and obviously they wanted some extra time and to do some visits so negotiations are still ongoing.

“It depends what they come back with but I am hopeful - the library will be running and open.”

Coun Iqbal said he could not confirm how much it was costing the council to run the library in the meantime - although ten associate libraries run by volunteersare receiving around £26,000 a year for up to three years.

But he added: “We always had a contingency in place for this.

“We knew there would be one or two libraries that would take a little longer.”

Libraries in Broomhill, Park, Southey and Woodhouse are now being co-delivered with the council covering costs and volunteer staff getting up to 15 hours per week council support.

Ten associate libraries – in Ecclesfield, Frecheville, Gleadless, Greenhill, Jodanthorpe, Newfield Green, Stannington, Totley, Walkley and Upperthorpe – are maintained by volunteers with the council providing up to £262,000 each year for up to three years to enable them to get established.

Meanwhile in Broomhill campaigners are still hoping to secure an independent inquiry into the takeover of libraries .

Broomhill Library Action Group has claimed there were ‘anomalies’ in the council’s needs assessment on which the current library branch rankings were based.

It has threatened to take legal action against Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey, who has said he is ‘not minded’ to run an inquiry if he does not intervene in the situation.