November 9, 2021 1.28 pm This story is over 24 months old

Bishop Grosseteste University to take over Ermine Community Hub as councillors call for more to open

Four spots open, said council staff

Bishop Grosseteste University could be set to take over the running of the Ermine Library and Community Hub in Lincoln as a ward councillor calls for a new centre to open in St Giles.

Lincolnshire County Council were given a five-year update on the Community Hubs opened in 2016 during a meeting of the Public Protection and Communities Scrutiny on Tuesday.

Louise Egan, Library and Heritage Client Lead, described how, in 2017, Learning Communities, which ran the Ravendale Drive site, went into administration and operation was taken on by Greenwich Leisure Limited until restrictions came in March 2020.

Unfortunately, due to COVID measures Greenwich has had to reassign staff to its own core sites since lockdown was lifted meaning the Ermine is the only site not to have reopened in some form.

However, Louise said talks had previously started with BGU and so LCC were hoping to finalise a way forward on Monday to reopen it in the next few weeks.

She was responding to a question from neighbouring ward member for St Giles Conservative Councillor Nicola Clarke, who also called for another hub to be opened

Councillor Clarke said: “The people that [the hub] would serve across all demographics is just over 20,000.

“People in St Giles have to walk to that and I would like to know if there is any opportunity to organise another hub.”

Councillors were told there was “space” for four more community hubs to be brought in as part of the service with Heckington Councillor Andrew Key indicating he would be taking the idea to one of his parish councils.

Community Hubs were brought in as a new way of delivering Lincolnshire’s libraries in 2016.

Louise said that since reopening following January’s lockdown the facilities were “doing really, really well at the moment – especially considering the recent context and environment of the past 18 months”.

“Covid has shown that those sites are relied upon by our community and it has been highlighted how much they have been missed by the community and users.

“They were probably hit the hardest because many volunteers are vulnerable.”

“Since reopening they have gone from strength to strength. All the sites have appreciated the support they have received and a lot of customers were pleased when we were able to offer the services again.”

Conservative Nettleham and Saxilby Ward Councillor Jaqueline Brockway said there had been some concerns raised by residents in her ward which Louise said she would look at. While fellow Tory Councillor Anton Dani also raised some concerns over public transport to the sites.

However, most councillors were complimentary of the service with Conservative Spalding Elloe Councillor Elizabeth Sneath saying one in her area had “become a shining site in our community”.

BGU has been approached for comment.