Monday, October 29, 2012

Call for alternative facilities during library disruption


I have called for Leisure and Culture Dundee and the City Council to make alternative library arrangements and for local groups who use Blackness Library when the library is disrupted early in the New Year as improvement work is undertaken at the library that will create disabled access to the upstairs meeting rooms for the first time.    

The work to improve the disabled access and some other improvements follows a council decision earlier this year, arising out of a public consultation exercise.

I was recently updated by the City Council’s Chief Architect that work will commence immediately after the festive season.    The Chief Architect advised me:

“You may recall that following the public consultation exercise some additional works, and costs, were introduced into the scheme and together with the client and contractor we have being trying to ensure the brief and budget are fully aligned. This has been a challenging exercise and includes testing, with utility providers, of the allowances for services diversions. 

We have been holding detailed discussions with the utilities providers to agree services relocation routes and these have been largely resolved. It had been anticipated to start the works following the recent October holiday however, in recent weeks it has transpired that one of two BT cables, thought to be phone lines, is actually a main-line NHS internet/IT service route. On Monday of last week we met with BT staff and have agreed a route and method to address this. However it will impose an eight week lead-in period.

In discussion with all parties and given the proximity to the festive period and demand upon the facility, the current predicted site commencement is to be just after the holiday period. The construction period remains as previously advised at 16 weeks.”

I have been further advised that although 16 weeks is the suggested timeframe for all the work, the library will be largely functional for the majority of this time, some 10 weeks.   However, there will be around six weeks when there clearly be disruption to library services and to the groups who use the meeting rooms.

I have therefore contacted the Managing Director of Leisure and Culture Dundee, who operate Blackness Library on behalf of Dundee City Council, to find out what alternative arrangements can be made during the disruption to the library.    It strikes me that there is a need to find a temporary home for library meeting room users.

Having had a tour of the facilities at the Whitehall Theatre last week at the invitation of former Lord Provost John Letford who now chairs the Whitehall Theatre Trust, it could be worth exploring this an option for library user groups, with some mobile library provision for the actual library facilities.