Fair Oak Library
In January 2020, Hampshire County Council (HCC) commenced a consultation about reducing the cost of the Library Service with the aim of delivering approximately £1.86m of savings. The consultation identified a “preferred option” which would save c£1m per annum, namely the closure of up to 10 libraries across Hampshire. Fair Oak library was included amongst those it wished to close, saving approximately £37k per annum.
The consultation ran from January to March 2020 and the Parish Council’s response to the proposals can be found here.
In July 2020, the County made the formal decision to close several libraries including Fair Oak which it was closed in December 2020.
In response to the news of the closure, the Parish Council put a call to action to the community with over 30 people volunteering to help establish a community led library. Fair Oak Community Library was registered as a formal Charity on 8 December 2020.
Fair Oak & Horton Heath Parish Council, at its meeting on 22 February 2021 decided to accept the freehold transfer of the library from Hampshire County Council. They also agreed an annual budget of £7k per annum to support the maintenance of this building. The report discussed can be found here.
Both the Parish Council and the Community Library Group applied to HCC for grant aid for the building enhancements and library set up costs.
Executive Member for Recreation, Heritage, Countryside and Rural Affairs, Councillor Edward Heron approved the following funding at his Decision Day meeting on Friday 19 March: -
- £10,000 to Fair Oak Community Library - to help Fair Oak and Horton Heath Parish Council to create an Independent Community Library and reconfigure and refurbish the library, purchase IT equipment and create training videos for volunteers.
- £3,000 to Fair Oak and Horton Heath Parish Council – This money will be used to pay for urgent work towards rainwater goods and external handrails at Fair Oak Community Library.
The legal transfer of the library from HCC to the Parish is currently in progress. It is hoped that the Community Library will be able to open its doors in April/May 2021. That’s less then 10 months after the formal decision to close the Library and is testament to the dedication of the group of volunteers and the support of the Parish Council.
Even more exciting news, on 10 March 2021 EBC’s Local Area Committee agreed the transfer of £55,928.62 developers’ contributions for building enhancements. The Council will use this money to install solar panels, repair the old roof and make internal alterations to provide a much more inviting space. The works will likely take place after a settling in period of 9-12 months after the library has been in operation.
More information on the library can be found at www.fairoakcommunitylibrary.org