FRESH hope has been sparked for the future of Walcot Library after plans were put forward to transform it into an IT training centre and community hub.

A business plan, which campaigners say will save the library from total closure, has been formulated by Walcot charity shop and library chairman Peter Mallinson joined by directors Joe Haracz, Sue Martin and Liden, Eldene and Park South councillor Derique Montaut.

Peter said: “By redesigning the unit we believe we can meet the requirement of local residents to retain some library facilities whilst keeping the whole operation financially viable.”

The strategy would see the Sussex Place unit, which the Walcot Shop and Community Library moved into just over a year ago, become an IT training hub where volunteers would teach jobseekers and the elderly how to best utilise the web.

They also hope the new strategy will appeal to ‘silver surfers’, elderly residents who may benefit from using the internet for such things as online shopping or paying bills.

Along with the training centre, the space would act as a library book pick up and drop off point, and serve as a public meeting place for local groups.

“Our vision is to see people coming in who may not know how to use job boards and be trained by volunteers on how to apply for jobs online,” said Peter.

“This is a deprived area and some people may not have access to the internet so come to do it.

“We are already offering advice to people on how to use the internet and apply for jobs and we want to grow and expand upon that.

“We also want people to have a direct line to the council here and for it to become a hub for councillors to hold discussions with residents.”

They are confident the shop, which has enjoyed steady business for eight years, will generate enough profit to support the new venture.

“We are already a charity and our business is financially viable so everything is in place to sustain ourselves,” said Peter,

They have submitted their new strategy to Swindon Borough Council and hope to have sign-off imminently.

“We know it is happening, the decision has been made about the libraries.

“We just want to get on with now,” said Coun Montaut.

“We want to roll up our sleeves, start work and get down to getting this project off the ground. “

“No matter what has been thrown at us, we are still here serving the community as we have always done and we are very proud of that,” added Peter

Swindon Borough Council’s plan will see the number of council-funded libraries cut from 15 to five by August 2017, with community groups and the soon-to-be formed parish councils left to step in and take on the remaining ten if they are able to.