Estuary League of Friends needs £1.8m for community hub

PUBLISHED: 09:06 24 April 2015 | UPDATED: 09:06 24 April 2015

Topsham library reopens after being taken over by Estuary League of Friends. Ref ext 3635-17-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Topsham library reopens after being taken over by Estuary League of Friends. Ref ext 3635-17-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Archant

Estuary League of Friends must find nearly £2million if it is to turn Topsham Library into a community hub.

The community group has taken over management of the building after nearly two years of negotiations with Devon County Council (DCC).

In the next 18 months, Estuary League of Friends needs to find £1.8million for construction work to create a community hub at the library.

Rachel Gilpin, chief executive of Estuary League of Friends, said: “We are absolutely delighted – it’s taken long than we expected.

“This is the first library to be co-delivered by a local community charity and its volunteers, so this sort of help is invaluable as we work towards our ultimate goal of developing a new building fit for the future.”

Estuary League of Friends has raised £250,000 so far and is looking to charitable funds and trusts.

The group has been looking for a place to run the centre for some time and approached DCC to suggest redeveloping the library.

The move means the council no longer owns the building, but will continue to manage the library service with its staff, supported by Estuary League of Friends volunteers.

Ciara Eastell, head of DCC library service, said: “It has taken almost two years to get to this stage, but that is because it has never been done before.

“The process will now serve as a model for other communities in Devon and provide learning that will prove valuable in our plans to set up an independent community-owned ‘mutual’ to run all of the county’s libraries.”

To mark the change, the building has undergone minor refurbishment and redecoration, which has been carried out free of charge by Midas as part of its community service programme.

Midas has been busy painting, cleaning and removing rubbish and materials, as well as refurbishing the library’s kitchen area.

Estuary League of Friends currently has 15 volunteers which supplement the Devon Libraries staff. More volunteers are required and anyone who is interested in helping out can ring 01392 879009.

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