Library set to close

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A LIBRARY will close at the end of next month as council bosses look to balance the books in light of Government cuts.

West View Library, in Miers Avenue, is to shut at the end of December as Hartlepool Borough Council makes budget savings.

The closure – which will not result in any compulsory redundancies – will save the local authority £39,000 a year.

The council is faced with slashing £15m from its £90m budget over the next three years.

Library bosses say the closure is “regrettable” but add that residents in the West View area will be able to use a mobile library service.

While the library will shut within eight weeks, the adjacent West View Community Centre is set to be taken over by two local organisations.

West View Advice and Resource Centre and West View Project are in negotiations with the council about taking over the lease of the building for community use.

Plans to close West View Library were first included in a major review of libraries that came into effect in April after the cuts in grant from Government.

But the closure of the library and community centre was postponed until December to give council officers time to explore the future of the whole site.

Councillors agreed to use £46,000 of insurance money set aside to replace stolen civic chains to help keep the sites open for a further nine months.

But the library is now set to close.

A council spokesman said: “Unprecedented cuts in Government grant is resulting in some very tough decisions for the council and regrettably we will not be in a position to fund West View Library beyond December 2011.

“However, we are in negotiation with West View Advice and Resource Centre and West View Project and we are aiming to transfer the library building and other community centre to both organisations by January 2012.

“This will ensure that key community buildings are maintained for local people while council library services in West View will be provided via the mobile library.”

West View Community Centre will remain under the long-term ownership of the council, with the two organisations taking it on through a long lease arrangement.

The transfer will help create savings in this year’s library and community resource budget.

When West View Library closes it will be the second Hartlepool library to close within the last year after Foggy Furze Library, in Stockton Road, closed in March to save £47,536.

The deputy mayoral chains were stolen in a raid on the civic centre on New Year’s Day night in 2008.

The vice-chairman and his lady’s chains, which are more than 100-years-old, have never been found, despite extensive police investigations.