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Concern that Waterbeach library could close due to fire risk assessment

A community library could be forced out of the building where it has operated for the past 50 years after school governors declared it a fire risk.

Waterbeach Library, which is run by volunteers, has been warned that it will have to leave the building on the Waterbeach Community Primary School site. The library first opened in the village 101 years ago.

Waterbeach Community Library could be facing closure following a fire risk assessment of the building.
Waterbeach Community Library could be facing closure following a fire risk assessment of the building.

Now there are fears any relocated premises found for the library will be too far away for many elderly visitors and young children and that the village will lose the service to the new town development nearby.

Library co-ordinator Maggie Crane said: “We are absolutely devastated to hear that the library may have to close. It’s very well used, especially by mums with young children in pushchairs and prams or on balance bikes who come because it is within walking distance.

“We also have a lot of elderly people coming who perhaps can’t drive but find this a really useful place to drop in. If this is moved to somewhere further from the centre of the village – such as the barracks – where people can’t easily get to without a car then a lot of people are going to miss out. And, believe it or not, there are plenty of people who can’t cycle that far.”

The community is mystified as to why a school would not want a successful library on its site, one which serves the children throughout the year, and provides books for school projects, encouraging children to read, even those who are still to discover the delights of the written word.

The library has been told by governors at the school that following a fire risk assessment the building will have to close.

However, Maggie would like to understand if section 106 money from developers of the Waterbeach new town could be used to build another full-sized library facility on the school site.

“We feel that Waterbeach has lost a lot recently – it has had its name taken away by the new town and now we are losing our village library,” she noted.

“What we don’t want to end up with is just a cupboard with a trolley of books on the site or people being told to travel to the barracks or the new town to go to the library. We want to save this service which has existed in Waterbeach for over 100 years.”

Maggie and other volunteers are now calling a public meeting at 7.30pm on Monday, October 2 in the Waterbeach Baptist Chapel to allow people to voice their concerns. There will also be a petition which will be available to be signed at the meeting, and copies will be placed in a number of stores in the village.

“In the meantime, the county council is working with the school and has identified two sources of potential funding which may help retain some sort of library facility in the community. Council officers are happy to work with the parish council on how to claim this money.”

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