Charity bids to move into demolition-threatened library

Charity bosses in South Tyneside have made a last gasp plea for a doomed library to be saved and turned into their new headquarters.

Monday, 27th August 2018, 9:00 am
Updated Monday, 27th August 2018, 10:06 am
Hebburn Helps' Angie Comerford and Jo Durkin at the old Hebburn Library.

Hebburn Helps is urging council chiefs to halt plans to pull down Hebburn Library - just days before the bulldozers are set to move in.

The bid follows an online petition supporting the proposal which gained over 900 signatures in less than 72 hours.

The Hebburn Library building

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A spokeswoman for South Tyneside Council said: “We have received the petition and we will respond to it in accordance with our onstitution.”

Hebburn Helps wants the town’s former library to be saved and used as a long-term base because it has outgrown its existing venue due to demand for its services.

Established three years ago, it runs a food bank and supports victims of domestic violence.

Founders Angie Comerford, 42, and Jo Durkin, 49, have urged the council to reprieve the building in Station Road.

Angie said: “The library is exactly the space we need. We have looked far and wide and there is nothing more suitable anywhere in Hebburn.

“In a way, we are victims of our own success. We no longer have the room we need to operate.

“Months ago we asked the council if we could use the library but were told in no uncertain terms that the plan was to demolish it.

“This petition is our last stand.”

Jo added: “This petition has stirred up great local support and I hope the council will listen and change its mind. I don’t know if the petition will make any difference, but fingers are crossed.”

Hebburn Helps is based currently at South Tyneside Children’s Centre, in Campbell Park Road, but relies on an outside container to store overflow donations.

The petition was launched independently by school worker Helen Towers, 42, from Jarrow.

She said: “Hebburn Helps does great work but it is bursting at the seams in its current location. I had to set up the petition and there’s been a great response.

“If the council had plans for the library site, then fair enough, but all they are going to do is to landscape it.”

South Tyneside Council granted approval to demolish the library two weeks ago. It closed in 2015 and was replaced by the multi-million-pound Hebburn Central hub.

South Tyneside Council said it recognised the positive work Hebburn Helps does and that it had supported its work when possible.

But a spokesman added: “The former Hebburn library building is old and inefficient and would need significant investment to bring it up to standard.”