Town council could move into newly listed library
PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 January 2012 | UPDATED: 13:19 06 January 2012
WESTON'S town council could move out of Grove House into the historic old library building.
Councillor Richard Tucker, a representative on both Weston Town Council and North Somerset Council, says the move would safeguard the future of the Victorian landmark, while providing the town council and community with new facilities.
He now aims to propose the move to the town council and wants to gather public opinion on a move that would see the authority leave its current Grove House home.
The proposal has received a mixed reaction from fellow councillors, but both the town and district authorities have said they would consider a formal bid.
The Boulevard facility, designed by architect Hans Price and opened in 1900, had been threatened with closure after North Somerset announced the service would be moved to the town hall.
But it was granted Level Two listed status in December, meaning that any move to demolish the building would need special consent.
Cllr Tucker said: “The main reason is that we need to maintain it as a public building, and how to do that has been the cause of a debate for a long time now.
“We would obviously need to assess a great deal of things, especially the cost involved, but it would work on two fronts – obviously it would ensure that the library was still used by the people of Weston, and it would also give the town council a bigger space to use.”
Cllr Tucker believes the building could be used for a variety of community activities, and said he would be proposing the scheme to the town council.
If the town council were to move, that would mean Grove House, which is currently rented at a peppercorn rate from North Somerset, could potentially be sold off.
Cllr John Crockford-Hawley, a member of both Weston and North Somerset councils, said: “I think it’s an interesting idea, and if there could be a mixture of town council and community uses which was economically intelligent, then it’s a matter for further discussion.”
But town council leader Keith Morris believes the authority should stay put, saying: “I think it would be madness, we have a contract at a very low rate with North Somerset for Grove House, and North Somerset would not give us the facility for free.”
Tony Lake, North Somerset’s executive member for asset management, said: “We would give serious consideration to any community use for the library, but we have to bear in mind it does have a value, if the town council comes forward with a proposal then we would consider it.”
Town clerk Malcolm Nicholson said that the move would be looked into by the authority once Cllr Tucker had made a firm proposal, adding that it had ‘potential’ but costs would have to be identified to see if it was feasible.