Denton MP Andrew Gwynne, his wife Allison and Denton West Councillor Brenda Warrington, joined with the members and supporters of the Friends of Denton West End Library on Friday to formally celebrate the handing over of the former library to the community group.
The library was one of five across Tameside which was closed as a result of substantial government funding cuts to impact the Council. Before last week’s latest 10% cut announced for local government in the spending review, every man, woman and child living in Tameside had lost the equivalent of £163 in central government grant. This had meant the Council had to close a number of facilities across the Borough, including Denton West End Library.
However, local residents in Dane Bank and Thornley Park successfully organised themselves into a Friends Group and began the long and torturous process of fundraising and putting together a successful business case to buy the building and contents from the Council, with a view to reopening as a library and community hub. The process was finally completed on Friday (28 June) on the same day as a pre-organised Community Fundraising Disco and Barbecue was held for the Friends Group at the neighbouring Denton West End Community Centre, where Andrew, Allison and Brenda volunteered to cook and serve the food!
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“The barbecue and disco was a great event, raising around £700, and it was made even better by the fantastic news about the library. I am absolutely delighted the library has now transferred to local community ownership. The Friends of Denton West End Library have achieved a remarkable outcome, having drawn up a great business case and secured funding through donations, charitable giving, grant funding and two loans from the Co-op.
“Not only does this mean the library will now reopen, but it will also be developed into much more of a community hub than before. However, this is also where the really hard work will start. I know the Friends Group will be calling on all those in the community who offered to volunteer or who pledged to make a financial contribution. That is now going to be crucial if the project is to succeed.
“But I want to add my support and appreciation to the Group for their fantastic efforts, who stuck with it through some quite difficult times along the way, and to the Council who, despite all their financial problems, did allow the transfer and sale to the Friends Group to take place – something that it’s very easy to forget, wasn’t even an option when the Key Decision was taken to close the library 12 months ago. Now let’s hope the project is fully supported by the communities in Dane Bank, Thornley Park and Denton West End. The Group certainly has my total support and commitment.”
Anybody wishing to volunteer and/or make a financial donation to the Friends Group can do so by contacting the Group via their Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/groups/132295476911314/
In a similar move, the Friends of Haughton Green Library, in Denton South, are also in discussion with Irwell Valley Housing Association about reopening the library there as a community hub. The ownership of the Haughton Green Library building reverted to Irwell Valley following the closure of the facility last year.