HEREFORDSHIRE Council has signed a lease for a building which it transferred to the ownership of a town council. 

Ross-on-Wye Town Council took over the running of The Old Chapel in Cantilupe Road in an asset transfer from the county council in 2015.

The town council has struggled to find a tenant for the building as there were clauses in the transfer documents which said the premises should only be rented to an organisation which would help the community.

The town council has offered a five year rent-free lease to the county council in exchange for the removal of these clauses, which also means that the town council will no longer have to give 50 percent to the county council if they decided to sell the building.

Herefordshire Council will have to carry out repairs to the building which in 2016 were estimated to cost at least £70,000.

The council said it wants to improve facilities at the Old Chapel, which will be used to house a multi-agency office and provide additional children’s centre activities.

The town’s children’s centre services are moving from the Ryefield Centre to the library and the Old Chapel.

A decision was taken to use the Old Chapel following public consultation feedback that there may not be adequate space at the library to house all of the children’s centre services.

A maximum investment of £272,000 has been agreed for moving the children's services.

At the library more space will be created in the desk and counter area, facilities for health visitor and midwife sessions, an additional meeting room and kitchen to support events and activities, and extra storage. There will also be repairs to the external wall which will allow the creation of an outdoor play area for children using the library for children’s centre activities.

The investment aims to make the most of the library as a key local centre. The building is home to Jobcentre Plus and the library hosts many events and activities with free to use Wi-Fi and public access PCs.

Councillor Harry Bramer, cabinet member for contracts and assets, said: “The investment in Ross Library shows how we can make the most of the facilities we have in our local towns to help them be sustainable in the long term. By bringing the two services together we can provide a wider use of the library for different types of activities and services and make the under-used space at the Ryefield Centre available for future redevelopment.”

All improvement plans will be available to view at Ross Library, and work is due to begin in March 2018 with minimal disruption to library users.