London Borough of Bexley is working with Eco Communities, the operator of North Heath and Upper Belvedere Libraries, on a plan to put new management arrangements in place at both community libraries.
Eco Communities have operated both libraries since 2016. They have decided to focus their activities in Bexley on the management of the Slade Green and Howbury Community Centre, where they offer an ever-increasing range of activities to meet community needs, along with the library.
Eco Communities will support the Council with the transition to new management arrangements and will continue operating the North Heath and Upper Belvedere libraries, while the Council looks for new partners who can bring exciting new services to both libraries.
Councillor Sue Gower MBE, Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said:
Eco Communities have done a great job of running these libraries for the benefit of the community and have supported many local residents through the services and activities they have provided. We will now work in partnership to manage the careful transition of the libraries to new management arrangements over the coming months."
We now want groups with an interest to let us know how they might like to run one or both libraries. Our community libraries can do things their own way and may want to combine the library offer with other activities that ensure they can be financially sustainable. We are open to all suggestions so long as they keep the library open for the public and continue to provide free access to books and IT.”
Darren Taylor, CEO of Eco Communities said:
We’ve loved every minute of our time at these two libraries and our staff and volunteers have taken great pride in supporting these fantastic communities. We are now looking to focus all of our efforts in Bexley on developing Slade Green and Howbury Community Centre and Library, where there is so much scope to deliver on our objective to support communities through challenging times.”
The new operator could be a charity, community organisation, or a group of local residents with a passion for libraries. The successful groups will receive a grant from the Council to help them run the library.
The first stage of the process of finding a new operator is to seek expressions of interest. This involves groups or individuals filling out a form to capture information about themselves and their initial ideas for one or both libraries. Interested groups will then be shortlisted and invited to submit a more formal business plan later in the summer.
The new management arrangements will then be put in place during autumn 2023.
The deadline for submitting the first expressions of interest is Friday 23 June 2023.