Category Archives: Library

Where will our library go?

Thorney Library

Thorney looks likely to lose its current library in January when the building is put up for auction.

Thorney Parish Council heard on Monday evening that Peterborough City Council is hoping to sell the building, along with the former community centre in Church Street, for £300,000.

Both the old community centre and the library were the village’s infants’ and girls’ schools until 1940, when the Duke of Bedford School opened.

Parish councillor Russ Bevington, responding to a question from Doris Pacey, a member of the public, said the village would not lose its library, but he couldn’t say whether there would be a break in service or what the new provision would be.

He said there had been talk of a mobile library or putting up a temporary building next to the Bedford Hall.

The future of the library seems tied up with the future of the Bedford Hall, the village community centre. There is a proposal to house the library in space at the back of the hall, but cost was estimated at £110,000.

A suggestion to accommodate it at the school was rejected by school governors.

Mr Bevington said the city council had promised the money from the sale of the Church Street premises would stay in the village and that some of it would be used to help fund a new pavilion in the park.

Anti-social behaviour problems

Residents of Park Close attended the meeting to complain about anti-social behaviour that was making their lives a misery.

It was claimed there had been fights, threats against other residents, drinking and drug taking. There had been three police raids, including one by armed police.

City councillors agreed to take up the issues with Cross Keys Housing Association to see if something could be done.

Parish Council chairman, John Bartlett, said the problems stemmed from when Peterborough City Council changed its letting policy, which resulted in families being housed in properties that were intended as old people’s bungalows.

Council vacancy

There have been two applications for the vacancy on Thorney Parish Council. Councillors will interview candidates at next month’s meeting.

Heritage street signs

The “heritage” streets signs for Church Street and Abbey Place are due to be delivered this week and should be installed soon.

LED street lights

Installation of LED street lights in the village is almost complete. A number of old lights with concrete lamp-posts remain to be converted and the heritage street lights for Church Street and Abbey Place have not been installed.

The parish council had been concerned about the cost of these rising from £10,000 to £20,000 and had still not received an explanation from Peterborough City Council.

£300 for Tommies

The Parish Council is to pay £300 towards the cost of the Tommy silhouettes that were used for the commemoration of the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Village signs are rotten

It might cost up to £15,000 to replace Thorney’s four village signs, which are now rotten.

The quote was for replica signs in aluminium, which would have a lifespan of up to 25 years. The Parish Council thought this was too much and are seeking quotes from other companies.

Nathan Potts said he’d had quotes from a local craftsman who could carve the signs in oak at a cost of £11,000.

It was suggested the current signs would need to be changed as the abbey was much too short and squat. New signs should get the scale right. Another suggestion was for a silhouette design, which might be substantially cheaper.

A decision was deferred until December to get more quotes.

New group set up to decide what happens to village assets

Bedford Hall Low Res

What’s happening with our village amenities? In our last edition, we reported on three major issues facing the village:

  • Peterborough City Council wants to sell buildings it owns in Church Street. These are the old infants and girls’ schools built by the Duke of Bedford. One part housed the old village community centre and the other is still used as the library, which will have to be relocated.
  • The city council wants to hand the Bedford Hall to a village management committee so it doesn’t have the burden of repairing and maintaining the building.
  • The sports pavilion in Thorney Park, owned by the city council, can’t be used because it’s falling to bits. There’s a growing campaign for the council to replace it.

So what has happened since April? A steering group called Thorney Futures has been formed comprising city councillors, council officials, members of Thorney Parish Council, representatives from the Bedford Hall management committee, the Thorney Society and Thorney Football Club.

The Thorney Post has also been invited to attend meetings.

Nothing is agreed so far, but the first two meetings of the group considered the following plans:

  • Bedford Hall to be owned by a new management company and grants sought to develop the building into a commercially viable operation, possibly with office space and a flat or accommodation.
  • Church Street buildings to be sold (estimate £220-£250K) and money to be used to build a new sports pavilion and meeting room in the park.
  • Library to be moved to the Duke of Bedford School and incorporated into new building work required to cope with increased numbers of pupils.

Since then, a group of people interested in serving on the new management committee for the Bedford Hall have met with a representative from the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) to get specialist advice and find out what support would be available. Some start-up funding is available to support community-led groups. A number of reports have been provided on the condition of the building and several, more in-depth reports are awaited.

Michael Bowen, chairman of Thorney Football Club, has met with council officials in the park. The council has promised to provide the club with support and funding to manage a new pavilion. The council is preparing drawings and plans showing design and location of a new pavilion. Thorney Parish Council may take on ownership of the building and sub-lease to the football club or the club may own it themselves.

Plans to move the library to the school were considered by school governors, who have said they have concerns over parking and security and do not want the library there.

Statement from Thorney Futures:

This statement has been issued to residents of the village by the Thorney Futures group:

Many of the organisations representing the village have recently started to meet formally with senior officers from the city council, to draw together plans to secure the future of some of the important assets the village benefits from.

Discussions are progressing positively in relation to:

  • Bedford Hall and the Museum – unique, architecturally significant buildings that provide invaluable community space and facilities
  • Public Library – an important service for residents of all ages
  • Sports pavilion – a vital changing facility to enable sports activity to take place locally

Alongside city council officers, the working group that has been created includes representation from your city councillors, the parish council, the Bedford Hall Management Committee, the Thorney Society, the school, and Thorney Football Club.

At this early stage, discussions are focusing on ensuring these vital facilities are protected for the village’s benefit for the future. There are no plans whatsoever to close either Bedford Hall or the Library, but it is nevertheless important we ensure they and other facilities are able to be self-sustaining and fit for purpose for generations more to enjoy.

A range of options will be agreed through the working group, the members of which are keen to make sure we hear from villagers as soon as we have more details to share.

We will provide regular updates through this and other media so that you are kept informed, and meanwhile if you have any ideas you’d like to feed in please do contact any of the organisations described above.


Bedford Hall repairs must be done before ownership is transferred

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.