PLANS to save four Hampshire libraries by turning them into independent community facilities have received a £40,000 cash injection.

Hampshire County Council has awarded grants of £10,000 to four groups in Horndean, Lee-on-Solent, Odiham and the Elson area of Gosport.

It follows the decision to axe some of the libraries owned and operated by the authority.

The buildings shut at the end of last year. Various organisations are planning to take on some of the closed branches and deliver services by turning them into Independent Community Libraries.

The county council is offering one-off awards of up to £10,000 to help cover the cost of setting them up.

Cllr Edward Heron, executive member for recreation, heritage, countryside and rural affairs, approved four grants at his latest decision day.

He said: “We were faced last year with the very difficult decision to close eight of our libraries to ensure that the best possible service could be maintained at the other 40 libraries across the county.

“It has been very heartening to see the communities in these areas pulling together, to enable library services to continue in a different way.

“In these very financially challenging times for local authorities, positive action from volunteers adds enormous value to the services that the county council provides.

“I hope that through these grants we can help these new Independent Community Libraries to be a great success.

“We are very pleased to be working alongside community groups who share our values.”

The grants have been awarded to Elson Community Library and Hub, Horndean Community Association, Lee Hub and Odiham Parish Council.

Cllr Heron declared a potential conflict of interest over an application from Lyndhurst Community Association.

A decision on that grant will be made by another councillor next Tuesday.


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