Councillors secure hopeful future for Covingham Library
COVINGHAM library looks set be given a new lease of life in the face of widespread cuts to the service across Swindon thanks to the efforts of local councillors.
A new library trust for Covingham was registered with the Charity Commission this week, a step that marks the start of a plan to make the popular community hub sustainable for many years to come.
A package of transitional funding, for an amount that has not yet been disclosed, has also been agreed in principle between Covingham Parish Council, Nythe Parish Council, and Swindon Borough Council.
Coun Dale Heenan (Con – Covingham and Dorcan), said: “Our five year plan for Covingham Library involves cutting costs by 40 per cent, new ideas on raising money to be more self sufficient, and a determination to improve usage and the customer experience.
“Our aim is to keep the library staffed with library assistants, install card access to increase opening hours, and encourage volunteers to focus on fundraising and holding local events.
“The ideas can be applied to all libraries facing closure across the town. All it takes is some imagination, hard work and the will to keep a library open.”
The move to step in to secure a future for the library in Covingham was prompted by the borough council’s decision to withdraw funding from ten of the 15 libraries in Swindon.
With all local authorities facing significant financial pressures, the libraries budget faced a significant reduction in funding.
The borough council is exploring a trust option of their own as it looks to make the provision of the future core service – made up of CentralLibrary, Highworth, North Swindon, West Swindon and Park libraries – more financially efficient.
Trusts have advantages over conventional organisations when it comes to the payment of business rates and access to grants and other funding.
The announcement of a trust for Covingham has been welcomed by local groups.
Sue Tucker, of the Friends of Covingham Library, said: “It is great to see the supporters of Covingham Library rally around and get behind Dale’s exciting plans for a community library trust.
Covingham Library is Swindon’s most popular small library, and we fully expect it to get even better over the next five years.
“We would welcome anyone wishing to collaborate in the library trust to get in touch so there is one voice for community libraries in Swindon.”