County council extends time for new Ore library initiative

Following two meetings of a group of community leaders and activists co-ordinated by Hastings Borough councillor Heather Bishop, East Sussex County Council (ESCC) has extended time for alternative proposals to be put forward to re-open Ore public library. As reported in HIP Issue 131 [click here to read], the council had last month issued a statement stating that negotiations with Ore Community Association for the library to be run as a community facility would not be progressed further, and that it intended to seek approval for disposal of the site. However, it subsequently agreed to entertain alternative proposals from the new group if they were put forward by 31st July, and this date has now been extended to 31st August.

Steve Manwaring, Director of Hastings Voluntary Action (HVA), Richard Street, former ward councillor and now chair of Big Local North East Hastings, Yvonne Thompsett, Subject Leader in English at Sandown primary school, and Charlotte Gooch of Education Futures Trust are among community and education leaders who have taken up the cause in meetings of what has been styled as Ore Community Library Group. Officers of the group were due to be elected at a third meeting last Monday (22nd July). A formal constitution will be posted on the Save Ore Library Facebook page. 

ESCC has indicated that it would expect to ‘evaluate’ the group’s proposals by 30th September and notify a decision by 31st October. However, the group seems to be hoping that it can make a sufficiently robust initial approach for this decision timetable to be further extended. Any long-term proposals will clearly depend on finding one or more funding sources which are not simply ‘one-off’ grants.

The library has been shut since May last year as a result of budgetary cutbacks, and there have been concerns that the condition of the building and of the books and other assets inside might have deteriorated in the course of the year-plus abandonment. However casual inspection from outside the locked doors confirms there has been no vandalism or other obvious damage.

The council has put out a statement: “We have always been committed to working with groups who want to open volunteer-run libraries and were happy to agree to extend the deadline to 31st August. We have also invited Councillor Bishop to contact us to arrange a visit to view the building.”

•  Save Ore Library group on Facebook

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