Residents in talks over future of town library

AROUND 200 people turned out at a special area forum in North Shields on Monday night to hear the latest on regeneration plans for the town.

But question marks still hang over parts of the town centre, including the Beacon shopping centre which is privately owned and largely out of North Tyneside Council’s control.

And Paul Gowans, the council’s head of cultural and customer services, said the council is in the midst of talks with owners Baronsgate about the future of the library.

The local authority has promised residents either a huge revamp of the existing main library in Northumberland Square or a new one elsewhere, to turn it into a ‘Customer First Centre’ – or a joint service centre, which will also house the library.

Mr Gowans said he hoped the new facility would include a café and have free wireless internet access.

One resident asked about what shops might be moving into the Beacon centre, but Mr Gowans said there were only two vacant units, and business moving in would be down to commercial interests and in the hand of Baronsgate.

Mr Gowans said that in the next 12 months the council will be looking at how to regenerate Northumberland Square, move forward with plans for the Beacon centre and customer first centre, replace the unpopular seats in Bedford Street and continue to support local businesses.