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6,000 visit new Ashton library in first week
Wednesday 13th March 2019 @ 13:09 by Lauren Entwistle
News

By Charlotte Green, local democracy reporter.

Six thousand people have visited Ashton-under-Lyne’s state-of-the-art library in its opening week.

The brand new library space is housed in Tameside One, the vast £48m building built in the town centre to replace the former council headquarters.

The ribbon was officially cut on March 7 to coincide with World Book Day by the borough’s Mayor, Denise Ward, along with the council leader Brenda Warrington.

Ashton Library has been built as part of the second phase of the multi-million pound Vision Tameside project.

The contents of the library has been relocated from the historic Tameside Central Library and Art Gallery, which has closed to the public and is due to be converted into council offices.

The 160,000 sq ft Tameside One building, which fronts onto Market Place, also acts as a ‘one stop shop’ with a range of customer service facilities under one roof.

As well as the library, it hosts Tameside council’s customer services, Citizens Advice, Cash Box Credit Union and Jobcentre Plus, which are all now open.

It is also home to Tameside College’s Advanced Skills Centre, which will open later in March following an extensive fit out of the facilities.

A meeting of the borough’s strategic planning and capital monitoring panel on Tuesday was told that since opening last week, the library has received thousands of visitors, and many new members.

Operations and neighbourhoods director, Ian Saxon, said: “It’s not that long since we were talking about the collapse of Carillion on January 15 last year, and we’re at quite a significant landmark point.

“The vast majority of the services that operate from that building are becoming open and – judging by the suggestions and comments that were made in the visitors book – very well received by the community.

“We’ve had over 6,000 visitors into the library last week, that is more than twice what we would normally get into Ashton Library.

“That is without the visitors into the building.

“So we’ve had well over a thousand visitors a day I think and that will be sustained, we’ve absolutely no doubt about that, in the library.”

The development will also house other Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group and council services.

It is hoped that bringing hundreds of staff and students into the heart of Ashton will help boost its struggling high streets and town centre.

Mr Saxon added: “The college are proposing to open next Monday, and have students in there, so again that is another landmark that is going to benefit the town centre in terms of footfall.

“That footfall cannot be anything but a benefit to the local economy.

“Also from talking to some of the market traders, they are pleased in terms of that increased footfall from last week and that will continue to grow.

“What is doubly encouraging is that when we spoke to library staff at the weekend, there are a lot of new library members, so people are not just going for a nosey, there will be an element of that but there are a lot of people signing up to the library and see the benefits.”

Council leader Brenda Warrington added: “I’m really pleased to see the numbers of visitors to the library just in that one week, that is amazing and let’s hope that that continues.

“I do hope that we get much more of the buy-in to the library itself.”

Bosses say that a smaller and more energy-efficient building will save taxpayers £1.5m a year, as the ageing council HQ was too large and expensive to run.

Construction firm Robertson completed work on the project following the collapse of Carillion in January last year, which temporarily brought building work to a halt.

Deputy council leader, Bill Fairfoull added: “I think it’s fantastic that we’ve managed to do this.”

Wilko’s will also open new retail space at Tameside One later in the year, and by September the college will have fully moved into the building.