By Chief Correspondent Rob Thomas
COMMUNITY action in Lee and Elson has ensured that people in those areas will still have access to a library and much more after the county council withdrew the services.
In Lee-on-the-Solent, the Lee Hub Independent Community Library has been operating in the library building on the High Street since mid-April.
This week, Elson Community Library and Hub opened its doors in what had been the local library in Chantry Road.
Both are the result of the hard work and creative thinking of bands of volunteers; both are registered charities; and both – as is evident in their names – aim to be community hubs offering other services and facilities alongside lending out books.
However, all the hard work has brought both ventures to, as they say, ‘the end of the beginning’. More work will be needed for them to thrive as community hubs and it entails attracting funding.
Membership is free but people are asked to make a donation – in the case of the Lee Hub, the suggested amount is £10 in order to borrow books.
The chair of the Lee Hub’s Board of Trustees, Christine McGrew, told The Globe that, “membership is currently 170 but we are looking for 500 members”.
She was a little coy about fines for late return of books, saying: “We can email members and we have not had any problems so far.”
The community roles of the hubs will be facilitated by hiring out rooms for group meetings.
This will provide an important source of income. As well as operating costs, the charities must fund the maintenance and repair of the buildings – ownership of which is in the process of being transferred from Hampshire County Council to Gosport Borough Council.
Christine estimates the Lee Hub needs £20,000 a year to be able to meet its commitments.
The financial pressures at the Elson Hub have been eased somewhat with a grant of £91,133 over the next five years from the National Lottery Community Fund.
That is in addition to the £10,000 grants each received from the county council.
Both hubs have plans for attracting members and providing the services local people want, such as a café (Lee Hub) or Tea Room (Elson Hub).
Further details about the hubs, including membership, facilities, and becoming a volunteer are available online at:
for Elson Hub – www.elsonlibrary.org.uk/ and for Lee Hub – www.leehub.co.uk/
Photo courtesy of Elson Library online