Details announced for Ponteland library move

Ponteland Library
Ponteland Library

More details have been announced for the relocation of Ponteland library to the town’s leisure centre.

Northumberland County Council announced the integration of services at the centre last week and has confirmed that a comprehensive library will be maintained at the new site.

The move will allow the library to offer extended opening times , new staffing arrangements and the introduction of improved self-service terminals.

Ponteland library is currently open 39.5 hours a week over five days and at the new site customers will be able to access resources seven days a week.

Coun Val Tyler, cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture at the county council, said: "Co-location is protecting our valued community services across the county and the new Ponteland library will offer service improvements including extended access.

"Integrating the service means the library will be able to deliver new programmes of reading, special events and engage with more residents and leisure centre users.

It will also offer opportunities to provide holiday programmes for young people encouraging a lifelong interest in reading and creative writing."

The Northumberland Libraries' home visiting service in the Ponteland area will be unaffected.

There will be a single reception for both library and leisure services with books, public access computers and library advice available within the leisure centre.

It is proposed to accommodate the service within the existing crèche area and to utilise additional space in the wider building. The move is planned to be completed by spring 2016.

Central government funding cuts require the county council to make £44million of savings over the period 2015-17. Given this challenge, the council has to explore new, more efficient ways of providing services including co-locating key services such as libraries.

There are integrated library services in Wooler, Amble, Cramlington, Ashington, Seaton Valley, Blyth, Corbridge, Prudhoe and Haltwhistle, and there are plans for co-located and integrated services in Alnwick, Berwick, Bedlington and Hexham enabling the council to continue to provide important and much-valued services in these areas.

Coun Tyler added: "We are committed to providing the very best library services across the county possible despite the scale of central government funding cuts for both residents and visitors."

Maintaining the council’s current property portfolio is not sustainable within available budgets and through the estates transformation programme, agreed by elected members, buildings are being rationalised in town centres to bring services closer together, making more efficient use of resources, protecting frontline services and keeping services locally provided.

The council announced plans relating to nine major towns across the county in March 2015 and this included the proposal to relocate Ponteland library in the leisure centre for a temporary period.

The review of buildings and assets in the towns will generate more than £33million capital receipts and make annual savings in running costs of £3.4million.

In the county council’s core strategy document, Ponteland will continue to act as a key county hub. Consultation on the final draft of the strategy, which will dictate how Northumberland develops in the years to come, began last month.

Linked to the strategy, proposals are being brought forward for new school buildings on alternative sites to be co-located with leisure services for Darras Hall First School, Ponteland Middle School and Ponteland High School in the Ponteland Partnership.