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Janet Wright of the St James St Library Campaign gave this report on what progress has been made, in the public meeting on 28th Nov.
I’m glad to say St James Street Library Campaign has already made a lot of progress since the summer.
For a start, we’re now working with local politicians, including our new MP Stella Creasy (who sent a message of support this evening) and our new councillor Clare Coghill.
We’ve had a meeting with Cllr Afzal Akram, who was planning to put the library building up for auction. That would have meant a cheap sale, probably to a developer. But as a result of our meeting, Cllr Akram has given us a bit of time to seek a tenant for the building, or a more suitable buyer. This is already a big step forward after our years of trying to talk to the council, and we hope to continue this dialogue with further negotiations.
After the meeting with Cllr Akram, we sent a message out far and wide, and have had some very positive responses, including at least one potential purchaser who would be good news for the area. We’re not putting all our eggs in one basket, so we’re also looking into several other options.
We’ve been in touch with groups that might be interested in sharing a tenancy of the building, or in being lead tenants with us with us having use of some of the space.
Our ever-growing network reached an urban-regeneration organization in Brussels. We’ve already had one meeting with its director, who gave us some helpful leads for possible funding and resources. He was very supportive and we hope to have further meetings.
We’ve put in an application to NESTA (the UK National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts). It’s an independent organization that promotes innovation in the UK, and we are waiting to find out if we have been shortlisted.
David Cameron is talking about The Big Society Bank. The money is apparently meant to fund community projects. We’re inviting him to put his money – our money — where his mouth is and send some of it our way. We reckon we’re out ahead because we’re already set up and ready to go.
Stella Creasy has organized us a meeting in December with Bert Provan, deputy director of the government’s Department of Communities and Local Government, to find out about the potential for government funding or support with our search for other sources of money.
We’re also doing research into community funding models such as bond issues, which might enable us to buy the library building ourselves.
And we put in a bid to the council for a survey to map community needs. This application was successful, and we’re now pushing the council to get the mapping carried out. Having these official statistics will support us in our further applications to other organisations.
So as you can see, we’ve not only done a lot of work on keeping the building from being sold to developers. We’ve also made progress on funding it for the uses we all want to see in our reopened library building.
And now we need help from you on the next steps towards making that happen.
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