Church steps in to save a library

Rev Elaine Cockbill Sundon Park Baptist Church, Sundon Park road, hoping to house a library
Rev Elaine Cockbill Sundon Park Baptist Church, Sundon Park road, hoping to house a library

A church in Sundon Park is offering a glimmer of hope to the bookworms fighting to save Luton’s libraries from closure.

Sundon Park Library is one of the libraries earmarked for closure this year due to funding cuts, and a petition containing more than 500 signatures was noted by the council’s executive last night.

Sundon Park Baptist Church is working towards a new premisies due to concrete rot in its current building and decided to offer space for a library in the new development which will be built next year..

The Rev Elaine Cockbill said: “We felt God was saying to us to increase our community involvement, which we have tried to do. At prayer meetings we came up with a range of suggestions, then we heard that the community centre next door to us was to close, and that the library might close too. Therefore we met and prayed about how we could best help. The population here is growing and we need more facilities, not fewer. We are a community church with a heart for the community.”

Luton Culture and Luton Borough Council undertook a three month public consultation on the restructuring of the library service and as a result recommended ‘option one’ which would see Wigmore Library, Sundon Park Library and the Mobile Library Serivce close, but keep six static libraries and additional access points across the town, with 86.6 per cent of the population living within a mile of a library. Luton Culture is now asking for alternative proposals for how to keep Luton’s libraries running.

Rev Cockbill said: “It’s important for children to have somewhere to go and do their homework, for people looking for jobs. It’s a lovely friendly library would be good to keep that provision in our area.”

The church is hoping to get planning permission by the end of the year and building will take place next year.

A petition to save Wigmore Library and a petition to reopen the Purley Centre Library as a martial arts centre were also received by the council’s executive committee.

If you have a detailed idea for how to keep a library open, email Maggie Appleton: by October 14.