Town’s library will soon be on the move

The current Morpeth Library building on Gas House Lane.
The current Morpeth Library building on Gas House Lane.

Library and customer services in Morpeth will shortly have a new home in the recently-refurbished Royal Sovereign House in Manchester Street.

It will be the temporary site for two years while a permanent location is found. One of the main factors for choosing this building was its close proximity to the town’s bus station.

As part of its plans to raise extra income, Northumberland County Council has put the Riverside site on the market. This includes the current location for the library, the Willows, Beechfield and Bungalows buildings and The Terrace car park between the library and St George’s Church.

And the authority has re-assured residents and traders this week that no parking spaces will be lost if a new development takes place in this area.

From Tuesday, July 5, customer services will operate from the new premises – with library services open from Monday, July 11.

To enable the move to happen, library and customer services on Gas House Lane will close this Saturday and on Friday, July 1, respectively.

Customer development manager Claire Mason said: “The new surroundings will be a much-improved environment for staff and our customers.

“Anyone who uses the library will know what a terrible state it is in, so we are looking forward to this temporary arrangement.

“It will also be better for customers – as well as visiting the library, they will be able to pay their council tax and find out about other council services.”

Val Tyler, the county council’s cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture, said the move was part of its plan to protect services by bringing them together and making vital savings given the scale of the Government’s cuts through the sale of buildings and sites it no longer needs.

Last week, the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade called upon the authority to clarify that any development of the Riverside site must include at least as many free parking spaces as currently exist.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “We are testing the market on property and land around the county to help us to understand the value of the sites and buildings that are surplus to requirements.

“To do this effectively, we wanted to offer some flexibility to developers in how this site could be configured to make the best use of the space, which means including the existing car park.

“We would like provide to assurance, however, that we would require the developer to provide parking elsewhere on the site to ensure that there is no loss of provision in the town centre.”