Twyford library cash axed from council fundsBy Jon Nurse
May 01, 2012
A £1.3 million fund earmarked for Twyford’s long-awaited new library has been deleted from the borough’s budget.
Wokingham Borough Council leader Councillor David Lee confirmed last week the amount had been removed from the budget, but said a viable project for the new library could still be funded by the council in the future.
Twyford Village Partnership (TVP) said it was disappointed at the news, having announced at its annual meeting that it is working with an architect on concept drawings for the scheme.
TVP is also looking at two potential sites after missing out on its preferred site to supermarket giants Tesco last year, it was revealed at the meeting on Tuesday, April 10.
Patrick Heather, TVP chairman, said: “I am disappointed the amount has been removed from the budget.
“I am also disappointed Cllr Lee has not been in touch with me to let me know of this bearing in mind we had a meeting only a couple of months ago. But I am encouraged that the leader of the council has told The Wokingham Times he is still interested in our project.
“We are putting together a project we think will be very exciting for the community and for the borough council as it will provide space for community services.”
The £1.3 million fund had appeared in last year’s borough council capital budget, earmarked for a community facility. However, it does not appear in the budget approved by the council in February for this year.
Cllr Lee explained the money had been put in place based on an understanding that £500,000 had been secured from Waitrose in Twyford. He said this transpired not to be the case and as a result the borough had removed the cash until a viable project was put forward by Twyford campaigners.
Cllr Lee said: “We produce our budget for a three-year period based on our best estimates. We were being told Waitrose were going to give us £500,000, but they weren’t.
“It doesn’t mean we are not going to back it on a sensible basis.
“The item in the budget was replaced by urgent expenditure.
“People in Twyford seem to think if somebody thinks up a harebrained scheme someone else is going to pick up a tab for it.
“We can raise money to do a practical proposition in Twyford.”
During the meeting on Tuesday, April 10, Mr Heather said: “We have been hard at work looking at two sites in the village.
“Our architect is doing all the preliminary work free of charge for the community and has finished his feasibility study.
“He will soon start on preparing the concept drawings that will enable TVP to continue in its discussions with the council.”
Campaigners have been battling for more than a decade to replace the existing library in Polehampton Close, which is said to be too small and has a limited book collection.
TVP’s plans faced a setback last year when the council decided to lease their favoured site to supermarket chain Tesco.
Cllr Stephen Conway said: “We are getting somewhere thanks to the work of TVP. I’m confident the project has lots of people working for it.”
Mr Heather said: “This project must be a partnership between the community and the council and that means a financial partnership.
“I believe the project that we’re currently working on will be just that.
“We have the full support of the borough councillor, the local parish councils, our constituency MP Theresa May and TVP business forum members.”