Many thanks to those who wrote to our County Councillors to request continued library provision in Sawston. I hope you've seen from my report in the Sawston Scene that the library will, most probably, move to a temporary site at the Village College. There are plans being drawn up for a few connected mobile units (including a loo!) on the D-shaped grassy area at the front of the college, where the coaches turn around. This isn't completely certain yet, as of course the County Council will need to apply for planning permission. I'd guess it might all be ready around the end of February absolute earliest. Thank goodness things are happening - it won't be ideal, but it's an awful lot better than nothing.
We've heard from the library service that, once the temporary library is set up, they'd be happy to receive decent donations - although their insurance company will pay for new stock, of course, so anything we can add would be extra. Marjorie Smith from Cambridgeshire Libraries sounded more keen on volunteers helping with unpacking and shelving - hopefully we'll be able to take you up on your offers of help, at last!
So, presuming the temporary library happens, the obvious question is - what next? The options are:
1. Stay in the temporary buildings. This is actually quite expensive, not to mention filled with the delight of being in a mobile unit; the insurers will pay for 3 years, then CCC would have to pay the hire company for hire of the units. Not ideal.
2. Move back to the original site. SVC are rebuilding the wing and planning what they would like to do with that end of the building, but have been very clear that the space belongs to the County Council for the library unless the library finds a new home. This option isn't ideal; while it has been a lovely library, we'd end up with all the previous disadvantages (insufficient space, no loos, poor parking, non-central location leading to poor user numbers) without the previous advantage of the historic interior.
3. A Community Hub is built for Sawston. I mentioned this previously; in short, the County Council have a pot of money available for building hubs, and Sawston looks like a prime candidate. Ideally, it would house the library, the Children's Centre, the Locality Team (who deal with things like family support issues) and anything else relevant - sport changing rooms, say, or space for outreach youth work. The Children's Centre need more space; the Locality Team are currently housed at SVC and need more (and different) space; the library doesn't have anywhere. So it does rather seem obvious to combine the lot, and seeing as we don't actually have a library at all at the moment, it sounds as though Sawston stands a pretty good chance of putting in a successful bid. CCC's contribution would probably cover the capital building costs, but I think they'd be obliged to maintain it because it would house their services.
It sounds like a really great project, and could be just the thing this village needs to bring people together. I'm certainly very excited by it!
But it would need a site, ideally as central as possible.
All the commercial units have been investigated by CCC, to no avail. The education people have said quite clearly that there's no space on the Bellbird site. The former John Falkner/Bellbird Lower site has been discussed at length - the owners have their own plans and community use isn't one of them; it's obviously completely out of the running and not worth the energy of discussing. It's been suggested that there might be space over the road, at Mill Lane recreation ground; the project could even incorporate new pavillion facilities. Personally, I think this sounds pretty good - it's a big big space, and there'd surely be space for a building as well as the playground and the football pitch. I also think that this project, which seems to have a reasonable chance of success, would be of *huge* benefit to local people. And, as a lowly mum, I'd be delighted to have the library permanently at Mill Lane - hasn't it been great having the playground next to the mobile library? But that's just my opinion; the land is owned by Sawston Parish Council, and it's up to them whether they'd be interested in allowing the County Council to build the hub.
I know which of the three options I'd choose! Oh for a crystal ball...
There may be a presentation about the community hub at the next Full Parish Council meeting, on 11 Dec at 7.15pm - anyone can attend. If this makes it on to the Parish Council agenda, I will let you know - but for now, do save the date just in case!
One last thing: could you let me know how you've got on with the location of the mobile library in Mill Lane? Better, worse, about the same as before? It would be interesting to know!
As always, do pass this on to anyone who might be interested and tell them to message me to join the mailing list!
Chair of Friends of Sawston Library