West Berkshire Council

New Community Library for Wash Common

Friends of Wash Common Library open community library on 1 December

2018 Signing of lease for handover of Wash Common Library

Issued on: 22 November 2018

Following the closure of the library service run by West Berkshire Council at Wash Common in 2017, a community group, The Friends of Wash Common Library was formed with the aim of restoring a service. The new community library is run by local volunteers and is independent of the Library Service run by West Berkshire Council.

The group applied through the council's devolution programme to take over the running of the library. Their proposal was agreed by West Berkshire Council's Executive on 14 June 2018 after consideration of a report which set out how this service could be sustained by volunteers and included a detailed business plan and fundraising strategies.

Newbury Town Council backed the proposal and have entered into a 5-year lease with West Berkshire Council for the temporary use of the building as a volunteer-led library service. The library will cost approximately £8,000 a year to operate which The Friends of Wash Common Library have raised through fundraising events such as coffee mornings, quizzes and author talks and with matched funding through the Good Exchange. Local residents have pledged annual donations of £1500 and the friends are hoping to get more regular monetary support as more members of the local community use the library.

Marcus Franks, West Berkshire Council's Executive Member for Community Resilience and Partnerships, said:

 "This is a perfect example of devolution working. We've developed a devolution programme to help sustain locally-led service delivery, and encourage town councils, parish councils and voluntary groups to have an increased role in service delivery.

"We are responding to requests from town and parish councils to run buildings which saves the council money at a time when funding is low. Projects like this demonstrate, the huge benefit of active community partnerships."

Julia Calvert, of Friends of Wash Common Library, said:

"West Berkshire Library Service have been extremely supportive in terms of advice on how to operate the library and in donating the book stock. Now we are looking forward to providing a great library service in our local community.

"All of the money raised at our various fund raising events have been match funded by the Greenham Trust. Our fundraising total on the Good Exchange platform was more than £12,134 at the beginning of November which is a fantastic result!"

Councillor Adrian Edwards, the Leader of Newbury Town Council and a Ward Councillor in Wash Common, said that this was a great result for all involved.

"I am very pleased that the Town Council is able to facilitate the Friends by leasing the building from the District Council. The support that the Friends have received from shows just how much this service is valued. We are all looking forward to the re-opening of the library and on behalf of the community in Wash Common I wish to thank the Friends for all their hard work in making this happen."

The community library will open its doors for the first time on Saturday 1 December at 10am with a special launch event. Everyone is welcome.  If you are interested in helping as either a volunteer or with fundraising please email friendsofwashcommonlibrary@gmail.com