VOTE: Should the library be retained for community use?

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A special working group headed by Midhurst Town Council looks set to be formed in a bid to keep the town’s library building in Knockhundred Row as a community facility.

At a meeting of the council’s finance and general purposes committee chairman Steve Morley told fellow councillors, the government’s ‘localism’ Bill due to be debated later this year would put towns like Midhurst more in charge of their own destiny.

“If it goes through it will give us the opportunity to be pro-active instead of reactive, and start moving forward with our own agenda.”

And among the first initiatives he and fellow town councillor Gordon McAra want to address, is to find a way of keeping the current library building once the library facilities move to the redeveloped Grange Centre.

“I am sure it won’t be easy and I am sure there will be many different ideas for its use,” he said, “but I hope as councillors we can agree it would be a tragedy for the people of Midhurst to lose that building.” Mr McAra has suggested several different possible uses for the library building including a much- needed museum, an interpretation centre for the town or for the South Downs National Park, small theatre, arts room or even offices for Midhurst Town Council.

Mr Morley proposed a recommendation to full council to head a group of interested parties who would like to see the library building retained.

“The more people we have singing from the same hymn sheet the better. I feel we would be letting ourselves and the town down if we were not ready to address the issue when West Sussex County Council put a ‘for sale’ sign in the window.”

Vice chairman of the town council John Quilter, said he fully supported the proposal and said members of the South Downs National Park Authority could also be powerful allies.

“I think we should fight like hell to keep the library as a community facility for the town.”

The matter will now be debated at a full meeting of Midhurst Town Council on Monday.