B&NES Council has outlined its plans for the final in a series of consultations surrounding its intention to integrate the Library and One Stop Shop in Bath.
The aim is to combine library and customer services in Bath to reach more people from all ages and backgrounds, providing a place where everyone in the community can access support, knowledge, culture and events to help them reach their full potential.
The Council has been listening to the views of the community and is now consulting on the location of the joined up service.
It has identified two viable locations from the five original options that can deliver the full range of library and One Stop Shop services. These are Lewis House in Manvers Street and The Podium in Northgate Street.
As part of developing the business case the Council looked at five options for the location – doing nothing, integrating in a purpose-built facility, integrating at Lewis House, integrating in The Podium and integrating in The Guildhall.
The remaining three options have been fully assessed and ruled out due to a combination of lack of availability, high cost or building constraints and access.
Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “We know that people feel very passionately about both library and one stop shop services and we have listened to those views following the first consultation about the principles of what an integrated space for both services might look like.
“I would like to reiterate that no decisions have been made at this stage. The Council does not have a preference and retains an open mind on how the combined service in Bath will look and feel and which of the two viable options is chosen.
The views of members of the public will inform and shape the Council’s decision on the location.
“Officers originally put forward Lewis House as the location for the joined up service in Bath as it met a number of national best practice guidelines. This included having a visible high street presence and being close to the main transport hubs.
“The Council also owns the building which would enable it to guarantee its future use. However, the views of the community have allowed the Council to reconsider its position.
“It will be brought to Cabinet to approve the site location and the capital required. When the design process starts, we will ask a cross section of the community to work with us.”
The consultation, a full comparison of the two locations and the business case will be available online via the Council’s website (www.bathnes.gov.uk) and copies will also be available in all libraries throughout Bath and North East Somerset.
Councillor Richard Samuel (Walcot), Lib Dem spokesperson on Community Services commented: “Local people have been campaigning for months against the Conservatives’ plan to move Bath Central Library. Finally the Cabinet is giving them a proper chance to have their say; however why is the preferred option – leave the Library as it is – not even on the table?
“The choice on offer is between moving Bath Central Library to the One Stop Shop at Lewis House or moving the One Stop Shop into the Bath Central Library at the Podium. How can the Conservatives pretend this is a choice? Either option is likely to lead to reduced space for the Library Service.”
The consultation will run from Thursday 20th July until Friday 15th September.