Talks under way in ‘hub’ funding crisis

Wragby library and Fire Station EMN-151109-121922001
Wragby library and Fire Station EMN-151109-121922001

Plans are under way to bring a new ‘community hub’ to Wragby - despite a ‘serious’ issue over funding.

Wragby Community Hub, run entirely by volunteers, looks set to take over the village library, due to close at the end of this month.

But community hub secretary Barbara Bartlett says funding could be a ‘serious stumbling block’ - despite the county council agreeing to a £5,000-a-year grant for four years.

The hub is in the same building as the fire station, on the outskirts of the village, and Ms Bartlett says Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue wants £4,000 per year to cover costs.

Ms Bartlett said: “One of our sticking points at the moment is the Fire and Rescue Service. We think £4,000 is too much.

“In the Lincolnshire Fire Service budget, what’s £4,000? I don’t think there’s another station in Lincolnshire where they’re getting money from a community group.

“We’re having meetings but if we can’t get this resolved it could be a non starter.

“Although it’s a serious stumbling block we do want to give this our best shot.

“It’s an amenity for the village. If we let go at this stage, it’ll be lost forever.

“We’ve got to feel optimistic even though it’s been a very frustrating time.”

The hub, due to open at the start of November, looks set to bring more courses and activities to Wragby, as well as library facilities.

Ms Bartlett said: “We’re going to increase activities, create workshops for children and adults.

“And there’s quite a big need locally for computer courses.

“We’ve got to have an income stream.”

The hub will be open initially on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am to 1pm - but more volunteers are being sought so opening hours can be extended.

Ms Bartlett claims she was told by the county council the building would have to remain closed during October while changes were made to computer systems.

She said: “There are quite a few people who now use computers to get Jobseeker’s Allowance and quite a few are rather disappointed that the library is going to be closed for October. There’s a great concern.”

The Rasen Mail contacted Lincolnshire County Council, which also handles fire service enquiries. LCC network manager Gary Porter said: “There should be no more than a week between the last day of county council operation of the library and the new community hub opening. This allows for the full handover to take place, including changeover of the IT provision. We have made all efforts to make sure they have financial certainty. The group will benefit from a 10 year lease including four years at peppercorn rent (£1). The council used to contribute approximately £8,000 per year to the running of the building, but we have negotiated this down to £4,000. This covers all the utilities and costs.”