Bidding open for library contract
A new group is being sought to run a library that was at the centre of a High Court legal battle last year.
Shropshire Council is offering a contract estimated to be worth up to £250,000 over three years to manage Church Stretton Library. The contract will have an option for a two year extension.
But the council has said that any new management should have plans to "fully or partially" replace the funding by the end of the agreement, although it insists that "any future vision for the library should ensure the library remains a key part of the community in Church Stretton".
Church Stretton's library was the focus of a fierce campaign from 2015 to 1016 opposing a council plan to move it into the town's primary school.
The dispute was scheduled to be settled in the High Court in April last year but Shropshire Council withdrew its case ahead of the hearing, leaving the library to remain at its Church Street base.
Under the new tender the council has said that the library does not have to be based at its current location but "will need to be delivered within the town of Church Stretton".
Groups now have until February 2 next year to submit a bid to run the library.
The tender document states: "The council is seeking a contractor to deliver a library service in Church Stretton.
"The term of the contract will be three years with an option to extend for a further two years.
"Our requirement is that Shropshire Council funding for this contract should reduce over the contract term; Tenderers are required to put forward proposals detailing how Shropshire Council funding will be fully or partially replaced, whilst at the same time sustaining a viable library service. Any future vision for the library should ensure the library remains a key part of the community in Church Stretton.
"This would include strengthening links with all key partners within the town, working towards local priorities as well as wider library service aims."
The council has said that it wants new management to look at fresh services to encourage more people to use the library.
The tender states: "Church Stretton library provision will remain within the overall Shropshire Libraries network, with ongoing support from Shropshire Council in the form of library IT systems, stock and professional librarian input. Like most other libraries Church Stretton library is facing challenges to many of its traditional functions. Future provision would recognise this and will take advantage of the many new opportunities that are emerging.
"This would include digital opportunities and making creative use of free Wi-Fi.There are also opportunities related to the growing role of libraries as a source of information and activity related to health and well-being."
The authority also says that current council employed staff would transfer under TUPE regulations.
The library currently provides access to the full range of library services as well as free computer facilities with internet access and printing, plus a selection of digital library resources.
It is also home to a local history collection of reference and lending material, supported by a team of volunteers, and hosts regular events.