Category Archives: Library

Bedford Hall repairs must be done before ownership is transferred

Bedford Hall

The future of a Thorney landmark and key village amenity became a little clearer on Monday evening as Peterborough City Council pledged to use most of the money from the sale of the library and old community centre in Church Street to fund the Bedford Hall.

The city council currently owns the Bedford Hall complex, including museum, the tower and unused former workshops at the back of the building, but is keen for the village to take ownership. It also wants to move the library from Church Street to the Bedford Hall.

But the Parish Council and the Bedford Hall Management Committee are insisting that expensive repairs and renovation take place before any transfer.

On Monday evening (April 3), a special meeting was held between Peterborough City Council, Thorney Parish Council and members of the Bedford Hall Management Committee.

Caroline Rowan, Communities Estates Manager at the city council said they expected to get up to £250,000 from the sale of the library and former community centre in Church Street.

These are listed buildings and used to be the village’s girls’ school.

The council has offered to give this money to the village to help with the upkeep of the Bedford Hall, but want to use some of it to make repairs to the building and to move the library. They have also promised to use some of the cash to help Thorney Football Club build a new pavilion in the park.

It is estimated it will cost between £60,000 and £150,000 to move the library, depending upon the specification of its new location; there’s an estimated £101,000 which needs to be spent on repairs to Bedford Hall; and the council has promised the football club £20,000.

The council presented a document detailing estimated costs of repairs to the Bedford Hall and Bill van Driessche of the hall’s management committee felt some of the charges quoted were way too high.

Russ Bevington of Thorney Parish Council thought the survey undertaken by the city council was missing key elements. “It states that some areas could not be accessed and that other issues needed further investigation.

“We know the museum is subsiding at the rear and suffers from damp in places, but there is no mention of this in the report. The whole building needs to be fixed in full before the parish takes it on.”

Mr Bevington asked the council to provide a fully costed schedule of work, including repairs that would need to be undertaken immediately, those within the next two years and those that would require repair longer term.

Caroline Rowan said the cost of a new pavilion for Thorney FC was estimated at £250,000. She said grants were available from various bodies, including the Football Association, but some seed funding would be required in order to be eligible to apply for these. She estimated that £20,000 would get them on the ladder.

She has asked the Parish Council and Bedford Hall Management Committee to form a working party to take discussions forward. In the meantime, the council has promised to fit CCTV to deter vandalism. Youths have broken windows and climbed onto the roof at the rear of the building, damaging tiles and gutters.

Bill van Driessche asked if the parish could form its own building company to commission work. “We have lots of craftsmen in the village who would be able to undertake repair and maintenance work and we could do it much more efficiently ourselves.”

Steve Allen, one of three city councillors representing Eye, Thorney and Newborough, said that ongoing costs would have to be met by revenue generated by the Bedford Hall. He wondered if the library and post office could be combined.

John Bartlett, chairman of Thorney Parish Council, said that at the end of the day, the final decision would have to be put to the village in a referendum.

Village library gets free wi-fi

Thorney Library

Free wi-fi is now available at Thorney library during opening times.

Peterborough City Council has rolled our free internet across all 11 city libraries.

Visitors will be able to connect to the internet via their own tablets, laptops and mobiles, making the libraries an ideal place for quiet work or study.

The technology was funded via an Arts Council grant of £25,000. It builds on the success of Open+, the library access scheme which enables people to enter the buildings during unstaffed hours, saving public money and protecting an important service for local people.

With Open+, which launched in May 2015, library card holders can sign up to use their cards to enter the building during specified hours. The number of people now signed up is 8,500, which equates to around half of the libraries’ members.

Lisa Roberts, Strategic Client Manager, Culture & Leisure at Peterborough City Council said: “The new Open+ technology has been really well received by our library users, and we’re looking to build on that with the wi-fi provision.

“While funding cuts have caused many other councils in the UK to close their libraries, we are finding ways to keep them open for longer and to attract more people to use them. Most people these days prefer to use their own laptops and tablets for their work, study and leisure, so by providing wi-fi, people will be even more keen to spend time at the library. It gives them the option to combine online research and learning with the in-depth insights from our books and other resources.”

Thorney library is staffed on Wednesdays 9am to noon, Fridays 1.30-5pm and Saturdays 2pm to 5.30pm. Open+ operates on Wednesdays noon to 6pm, Friday 9am to 1.30pm and Saturday 9am to 2pm.

Library self-service access still not working

Thorney Library

The future of Thorney Library is being put in jeopardy by the failure of an automatic-access system.

Earlier this year, a review of library opening hours across the city saw a plan to reduce the hours libraries would be staffed to cut costs, but to introduce a new self-service system so people could use libraries at other times.

Until May this year, Thorney Library in Church Street was open for 21 hours per week and the new system should have seen it available for 25 hours – only 10 of which would be staffed. At other times, people should have been able to use a key card to open the door.

However, the city council hasn’t been able to make the out-of-hours entry system work properly so the village’s library service has been restricted to manned opening hours only.

The problem with the access system seems to be a simple door-closer to shut the inner lobby door. Because the door has an unusual shape (it’s pointed at the top, like a Gothic arch) a regular door-closer can’t be fitted.

Now, the Parish Council has asked for a full explanation why the library is not open as promised and what’s being done to sort things out.

“The building may have a few particular problems as it is an older and Listed building but Thorney Parish Council is now very concerned that this long delay is jeopardising the welfare of the Library,” a Parish Council spokesman said.

“At present it is only accessible for a total of 10 hours a week, which is less than half the hours it was open before the changes were implemented.”

Parish Councillors say there was a complete lack of foresight by the City Council, altering staffing hours before the automatic system was properly tried and tested.

“Although we feel angry and frustrated by this, we feel even more frustrated and angered by the apparent lack of expertise in getting the automatic system into working order. We are led to believe that what is needed is a door-closer system that will properly close the inner lobby door. We are aware that the door has an unusual shape that prevents the use of a conventional closer but surely it cannot beyond the expertise of a City Council and its contractors to find a workable alternative.”

Library opening times cut from May 1

Thorney library

Opening hours at Thorney library are being cut dramatically from the beginning of May.

The cut in manned hours was expected as part of a drive by Peterborough City Council to reduce costs, but villagers were promised that the library would be available as a self-service facility at other times.

Now it seems that this has been delayed and the library will be open for just 10 hours on three days each week.

The new opening hours – from May 1 – are:

Wednesday: 9am to 12 noon
Friday: 1.30pm to 5pm
Saturday: 2pm to 5.30pm

Librarian Jane Ward said that they were still working out when the various groups, such as Homework Club, Reading Group or the Wednesday Drop-in, would fit in with the new hours or if some may have to be dropped.

She has produced a number of bookmarks with the reduced opening hours printed on and these also have the opening hours of the library at Eye. People can borrow or return books at any library run by Vivacity (the city council) and Eye is open Mondays (9am to 12 noon), Wednesdays (1.30pm to 5pm) and Saturdays (9am to 12.30pm).

When the city council opened consultations about reducing the library’s manned hours, they promised it would be open on a self-service basis for a further 15 hours. However, it seems this idea, which is being tested in other parts of the city, has hit problems and so isn’t now being rolled out.

At present there isn’t a date for when the additional self-service hours will kick in.

Library to go self-service?

Thorney Library will become part self-service under plans by Peterborough City Council to reduce costs.

The library, in Church Street, is currently open 21 hours per week and is open each day except Sundays and Tuesdays.

Plans put forward by the council will mean the library is open for longer – 25 hours – but it would be staffed for only 10 hours per week. For the rest of the time it would be self-service, with users swiping in using a key card.

It’s not clear whether the current librarian – Jane Ward – will remain in her post.

The plans for Thorney Library are part of a wider plan by the city council to shave more than £350,000 off the costs of running Peterborough libraries.

A council spokesman said the way people were using libraries was changing. More than 90 per cent of book loans are now made using self-service kiosks.

“Library staff now spend much more time helping people to use computers, or supporting groups meeting in libraries, than they do dealing with ‘traditional’ library enquiries. The challenge we face is how to provide an excellent, modern library service, with less money.”

There’s currently a consultation exercise in progress (closing March 20). You can go online to register your views, although the options are to agree to city council proposals or not. There is no other plan apart from the one put forward.

You can read full details of the city council’s plans by clicking here. The link will also provide access to the online survey or you can access it directly by clicking here: survey.