Work will soon get underway to convert the “Old Stationers” on the corner of Cecil Road and Church Road into the temporary home for St Thomas Library. The future of St Thomas Library has had a cloud hanging over it since June 2009, when the new owners of the Exe Bridges site contacted the City and County Councils, to say that they wanted to redevelop the existing site for yet more retail units, and not renew the current lease. Earlier this year negotiations for a new library on part of the Exe Bridges fell through. After many meetings, and some hard lobbying we are very pleased to have secured this temporary location, so that the huge number of library users across the West Exe have somewhere to use in the interim period. Its also very convenient for all our local primary schools, which is an added boost.
Cllr Rob Hannaford who has been working hard with local residents on this issue since the start said, “Its just a shame that this could not have been arranged before the existing library shut its doors, as I was very keen to keep continuity of service for local people. However its important to realise that this is just a temporary rather than a permanent solution. I have spoken to local library officers, and the site is just too small for a permanent library, as its such a busy facility. With that in mind I will continue to work to secure a permanent facility as a matter of urgency. I would like serious consideration to be given to the old Perriams Newsagents in Cowick Street, or the old Showman Pub. What ever future site is secured its absolutely essential that its under direct Council ownership, so that our new library is not threatened again by commercial interests, only concerned with profit margins and balance sheets, at the expense of culture and community.”
The County Council has negotiated a three year lease for the temporary site, and its hoped that building works, which include new flooring and heating will be completed by mid December 2011. Once ready the opening hours will remain the same, and the library will continue to provide events, activities and computer access.