All posts by jimbo

Theale Station: Footbridge and Lifts Deferred

On Friday 10th March, we received notification from the office of Alok Sharma MP that the decision has been made by the government to defer the update to Theale station to add new lifts and footbridge until at least April 2019. This is a big disappointment to all of us that have been trying to see this project delivered.

The letter from Rail Minister Paul Maynard MP to Alok Sharma MP is below:
theale_station_2015_05_09_160525_small
theale_station_2015_05_09_160525_small
 

This disappointing news follows months of requests for updates from Theale’s Future to Mr Sharma, Network Rail, First Great Western and the Rail Minister himself.

As you may know, there is a new station building at Theale which is currently not used. We shall seek to validate what the plan now is for this building in light of the deferral of the other expected works.

Theale Library – Consultation

West Berkshire Council threatened in the spring to close libraries, including Theale’s, as one of its proposals to save money. The government told them that their closure proposals may have been illegal and advised them to carry out a “needs assessment”. Following the needs assessment, carried out this summer, the Council is now proposing to:

  • keep all libraries, except that at Wash Common, open
  • use volunteers to help man branch libraries
  • ask town and parish councils to contribute £150,000 in total towards library running costs

West Berkshire Council have identified three options for the library service, each one assuming:

  • the retention of Newbury library with a restructured team of employees
  • the closure of Wash Common library
  • the effective integration of the mobile library and ‘At Home’ services. The current two vehicle service will be amalgamated into one and the schedule of stops reviewed accordingly
  • increased income generation
  • a financial contribution from Town and Parish councils of at least £150,000 in total
  • community volunteers sharing the front line work in branch libraries

Option A

The other seven branch libraries to be run by staff working alongside community volunteers. We currently estimate that this will allow the retention of one employed member of staff at each branch.

This would save approximately £580,000 per year.

Option B

We refer to this, and Option C below, as a ‘Hub and Spoke’ model.

Of the other seven branch libraries, two (possibly one in the west and one in the east of the district) would be staffed as in Option A above (Hubs) and five would be volunteer run only (Spokes), but receive professional support from the Hubs.

This would save approximately £620,000 per year.

Option C

The other seven branch libraries to be volunteer run (Spokes) with staff only in Newbury (Hub).

This would save approximately £645,000 per year.

Full details of the assessment and the West Berkshire Council proposals can be found here.

Consultation

West Berkshire Council would like to hear how these options will, if at all, affect you as an individual or your local community. In particular, we would be interested in any views you have on how we can minimise the impact that any of these options may have.

The suggested options do rely on support from the community and from town and parish councils, so we would like to know if you would be interested in supporting your library through volunteering.

All feedback will be considered, and a final decision made by Full Council in early 2017. The consultation closes on 11th December.

Please use the link below to take part in the consultation.
Take part in this consultation.