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Stansted Parish Council renews call for 'proper library'

Stansted Mountfitchet. General Views. New Library building, Crafton Green. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (13225130)
Stansted Mountfitchet. General Views. New Library building, Crafton Green. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (13225130)

A community-run library for Stansted has been ruled out by parish councillors who want Essex County Council to stick to its promise of providing a new facility for the village.

And they are calling on their county councillor Ray Gooding to fight their corner when it comes to deciding on the library's future as he sits on the cabinet which will ultimately decide its fate.

Asked by county to consider registering their interest in running their own community library, Stansted councillors unanimously rejected the idea at last week's full council meeting.

"Volunteer libraries are unsustainable. It should not be the responsibility of the community to take on a library because it is a statutory service," said council chairman Maureen Caton.

"We have been very clear what we wanted from the very start. And we would not have had the new community hub built if Essex hadn't said we needed a new library."

Essex has already agreed to fund the new library for a year within the new Crafton Green hub - which is yet to open - but appears to have changed tack by seeking county-wide opinion on volunteer facilities instead.

Councillor Geoffrey Sell said: "I have grave concerns about going down this community-run route. This is not what we fought for - we want a new library for a growing community and we should stick to what we have been saying all along - that we need a proper library."

Without the funding to back up a voluntary service, book stocks would not get replenished and would gather dust. "If you look at the figures in terms of withdrawals of books and usage, there is a decline and that coincides with cuts in hours and cuts in book stock," said Councillor Daniel Brett.

"If books are not replenished the library will just die. The main cause of decline of use is because of cuts and if we go for a community run library, it will just die on its feet."

Libraries required experienced staff and it would be difficult to find enough willing volunteers to sustain the service, the meeting heard.

Mr Sell said Stansted's was an "unique case" and it was clearly a contentious issue. "Because the situation is so serious we are going to have to ask for assurances from our member that he will voice our concerns publically in cabinet and will fight for us."

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