St Just Library Press Release

Posted on: 5th March 2016

St Just Library Press Release, issued by Cornwall Council in conjunction with Cllr Sue James and the Friends of St Just Library.

St Just Library

Sue knows people love St Just Library!


St Just Library talks in progress

Talks to begin exploring the process of transferring responsibility for St Just’s Library, including the Tourist Information provision, from Cornwall Council to the community have taken a tentative first step with a meeting. The meeting was attended by steering group members from the Friends of St Just Library group who revealed a range of backgrounds and skills to equip them for this journey. Also at the table were Officers from Cornwall Council’s Communities and Devolution team and a senior manager responsible for Library provision, in the Duchy.

Also at the meeting was the local Cornwall Councillor, Sue James, who said:“I recognise the importance of the Library provision locally and fully understand it is as much about the health and well-being of some of the isolated and vulnerable members of our community as giving children the good start of physical books as the foundation to their educational achievements in life.

“In addition, providing excellent tourist information, when our visitors need it, is good for the economy of the area. I see my role as doing everything within my powers to achieve the best deal for the people and businesses in the St Just area and one of my priorities is to have the doors open on a Friday, as soon as possible. I no longer want the embarrassment of Tourists looking bewildered at the Tourist Information sign but a locked door. Evidence is also there that Friday is a good day for families to come after school and work.”

Devolution and Library Officers explained the detailed business planning process to ensure that any Library provision devolved can meet minimum Cornwall wide standards and be sustainable. The process will be rigorous but Officers explained their role is to assist the Friends of St Just Library to achieve their ambitions.

Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Communities said: “We remain committed to maintaining an effective and efficient library service across Cornwall, whilst recognising that many of our local councils and community organisations have some fantastic ideas on how to make better and effective community use of our libraries. It’s great to see the St Just community working so closely with our local Member to progress their plans and is a good example of devolution in practise. This is new and exciting ground for both community organisations and Cornwall Council and I believe organisations like the Friends of St Just Library are potentially well placed to be able to maximise the facility for their local communities.”

The Friends of St Just Library will now be taking independent advice on the best legal constitution to fulfil their ambitions and at the meeting asked probing questions of Officers to ensure they move forward developing realistic and achievable plans. Council Officers will equally be robust to ensure that nothing is transferred that cannot be sustained. Rightly the Friends want clarity and have expectations of the support Cornwall Council will continue to provide in order to ensure that an effective and efficient library service is maintained in the far West. It is accepted that the ‘Offer’ from the Local Authority is constrained by budget cuts but the Friends are seeking the best deal in terms of professional and technical support.

Kate Beckly, Chair of the Friends of St Just Library group said: “This was a very productive initial meeting with Cornwall Council and Sue James, and we will be working closely with them to ensure that there continues to be a library provision in St Just. We are looking at ways it will be possible to stay in the existing building, but remain committed to the idea that the most important thing is that there is a library in St Just. There are huge challenges ahead, but we will be putting our energy and skill into making a feasible and sustainable future for our library. In the meantime we are working with the Council to enable us to extend the current opening times with help from volunteers”

At the Public Meeting before Christmas there was a commitment to hold a further public meeting and, although the Town Council who held that first meeting are not currently involved in the talks, those remaining around the table are in agreement that the public should be kept involved. There is a Facebook group set up and at the next meeting between ‘Friends’ and Officers, consideration of a 2nd public meeting will be on the agenda. The next public meeting will likely focus on putting together a sustainable business plan to keep the library and TIC in the current location. Although the Town Council has stepped back from the direct discussions for the time being, they have stated they remain committed to securing long term library provision within the town so will be involved in emerging proposals.