Hopes for 'fantastic' new Ottery library
PUBLISHED: 10:45 28 October 2015
Talks are under way to secure long-awaited new library facilities in Ottery St Mary, but the proposed site is still dividing opinion in the town.
Supporters say town council plans to transform the former NatWest Bank premises into a library would be a ‘great improvement’, offering more space, disabled access and public toilet facilities.
However, some business owners have criticised the council’s £139,500 spend on the building, saying it has prevented other viable businesses giving a much-needed boost to the town.
The leasehold was officially taken on by the town council this week and deputy mayor Ian Holmes outlined the vision for its future as a new, improved library, with free Wi-Fi, and cultural hub
He said: “We have had discussions with Devon Library Services and it has expressed an interest.
“It is mainly cosmetic work which will need be done.”
Disabled mum-of-four Lucy Lowe, of St Budeaux Close, said the venue was ‘perfect’ and something that had long been on Ottery’s ‘want list’.
She said: “Being in the position I am in and using a wheelchair, I can appreciate the frustrations caused over the years due to the access problems.
“Having an accessible library in the town would be fantastic - there are events that families with prams miss out on due to the current location. Those with mobility problems are also missing out.”
Chairman of the Friends of Ottery Library James Goddard said: “We are delighted that the council has managed to get hold of the building. It will be a great improvement.”
Campaigner Philip Algar also spoke out in defence of the bid at a town council meeting and thanked civic leaders for securing it for the good of the community.
But Chris Piper, of Christopher Piper Wines in Silver Street, remains critical of the move and says he feels a new business that could offer something different to Ottery would have been more welcome.
“I’m not saying we do not want a library, that is crucial,” he said.
“But we could get a first-class lift put on the existing building and it is just as central as the other place – it’s a stone’s throw away. There are some very vibrant businesses here, but not enough.”
David and Jane Wimsett, of The Georgian House, Silver Street, said it was a good thing the building would be occupied, but they were disappointed that businesses that wanted to open in town would not be able to because of this.