Search for group to take over former library building

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Community groups are being asked to consider if they can give a new lease of life to an iconic public building.

Wigan Council has made the former Atherton Library the subject of a potential community asset transfer.

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That means any grassroots group could be leased the York Street building, officially called the Atherton Centre, if they can come up with a suitable plan for running it.

Generations of bookworms visited for their reading material but Atherton’s library was moved into a one-stop hub facility at the town hall last year.

Wigan Council, which is promoting community asset transfers under The Deal, recognises taking the impressive pile on will be a big task for a community and voluntary group or social enterprise but hopes the borough’s army of civic-minded people involved in grassroots work might be able to make a go of it.

It said there is demand in Atherton for more facilities and this may be a chance to get plans off the ground.

Coun Nazia Rehman, cabinet member for resources, finance and transformation, said: “We want to work imaginatively with local communities to look at alternative and innovative ways of providing some of our community based services and making use of our buildings and assets.

“We know that the community in Atherton are keen to develop new community facilities. We also recognise that this is a big building that will need considerable investment, but we never underestimate that we have community groups that take on big challenges and succeed.

“The Deal is all about working in partnership with local people to improve our borough and a community asset transfer brings together the skills and knowledge of local people and the assets the council can offer.

“We will be reviewing all options that are put forward for the Atherton Centre.”

Any group which is successful will become responsible for running, managing and maintaining the Atherton Centre, including all the associated upkeep costs.

The local authority started looking at bringing services together in single buildings in 2017 after its customer services section was charged with finding £1.4m in savings.

The deadline for initial expressions of interest in the Atherton Centre is 5pm on February 5.

Groups which would like to take it on should ring 01942 486909, email or write to Corporate Contracts and Assets, Wigan Council, PO Box 100, Wigan, WN1 3DS.