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Community takes over Blackpool library

Highfield Community Centre
Highfield Community Centre
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A former Blackpool library has been handed over to a community group in a move that will save the council thousands of pounds.

The South Shore Community Partnership (SSCP) has been granted a five-year lease for the former Highfield Library building, on Highfield Road, for a peppercorn rent of £1 per year.

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The move transfers running costs and maintenance to the group which will save Blackpool Council £12,400 per year.

Highfield Library closed in 2004 and has been used as a community centre in the intervening years by the South Shore Community Association but with the council still operating the building.

A council report says: "The community centre will provide facilities for local residents to access, with the council supporting the third sector in enabling this, while safeguarding the fabric of the building which is of local significance and character from decline."

It is also hoped the handover will protect the building from the risk of vandalism and other anti-social behaviour.

Brian Coope, chairman of SSCP, said groups ranging from sewing to scrabble were already meeting at the centre which also hosts sessions including Chinese Sunday School.

He said: "Now that we have the lease agreed we can draw funds from various grants and social funds to enable us to expand the current offerings provided at the centre.

"The SSCP is also in the final stages of its application to the Charity Commission which, once achieved, will open doors to additional funding that will help the SSCP cover the running costs of the centre as well as developing further community peojects in the South Shore area."

Mr Coope said the partnership had negotiated the lease after working alongside the South Shore Community Association.

He added: "This will save the council in excess of £15,000 per annum but more importantly will open up the old library as a community resource to the residents of South Shore and in fact several new groups have emerged within the centre over recent months.

"The groups cater for young and elderly alike, the able bodied and disabled and the centre is a welcoming community hub that promotes friendship, social inclusion and works to reduce loneliness and isolation. "