St Helens Council leader says they will invest in 'iconic' Gamble building

The Gamble building
The Gamble building
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Labour has promised a “major capital investment” on the Gamble Building, with plans to move Central Library temporarily to the World of Glass.

As previously reported, it has been estimated that it would cost £2.1 million to carry out the required repairs and to modernise the Gamble.

The World of Glass

The World of Glass

At full council on Wednesday, Labour leader Derek Long said the council will invest in the iconic building – although no further details were given.

“We as a Labour council will make a major capital investment in bringing the Gamble building back into public use as soon as is practicable,” Coun Long said.

“I’m delighted to be able to say that it’s a well-loved building, it’s an iconic building in the centre of the town and in terms of our stewardship of our capital programme, it’s important we bring that back into public use.”

Coun Long did not provide any details as to what will happen to Central Library, which is based in the building and has been closed since March 2017.

But following the meeting, Kate Groucutt, cabinet member for futures and performance, said the council will open a library in the World of Glass – as previously reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service. However, this would only be temporary, she said.

Coun Groucutt also revealed that the World of Glass building will be named the St Helens Arts Centre.

The plans have still not been agreed by World of Glass’ board.

Coun Groucutt said: “We can confirm that Labour will re-open a library in St Helens town centre in the World of Glass, on a temporary basis.

“The iconic World of Glass building, which is home to thousands of items from our borough’s history, will become the St Helens Arts Centre.

“We will work with the charity to deliver a wider range of arts and culture services for our residents.”

Coun Groucutt added that the move needs cabinet approval after the election.

Also during full council, the council leader pledged that Labour will invest Earlestown town hall and bring it back into public use “in the coming years”.

It was revealed last month the council had secured £90,000 through the government’s One Public Estate programme to fund feasibility studies to pave the way for the regeneration of Earlestown town centre.

On Wednesday, Coun Long said Earlestown town hall is “key building” and a “key part” of the regeneration of the town.

In a triple-pronged announcement, Coun Long also teased that the £70 million Glass Futures innovation centre was edging closer to becoming a reality in St Helens.

The Labour leader said he was “confident” the local authority would be able to report at future council meetings that St Helens will be the location of the Glass Futures development.

Following the meeting, the leader of the St Helens Conservatives questioned how long residents would need to wait before the ground-breaking project comes to fruition.

Coun Jones said: “It is right that we should have something about glass in St Helens as that was our main industry in the past, but how long will be waiting?

“This is just, at the moment, pie in the sky until something happens.

“I will be pleased to see something happen and would be happy to be a part of it.”

The Rainford councillor also accused Labour of being “desperate” to “woo” voters for the upcoming local elections in May.

“I have heard from one ex-councillor that they can expect to lose four seats at this election,” Coun Jones said.

“They are getting a little bit desperate in certain areas.

“They are probably doing everything they can to woo voters.

“But you can’t fool some people all of the time and they can’t fool all people some of the time – and you can’t fool the people of St Helens.”