A CONSULTATION on the future of the Gamble Building will start next month.

Last October, St Helens Council’s cabinet endorses a phased approach to bringing the Gamble and Earlestown Town Hall back into public use.

A community consultation seeking views on the future use of the iconic buildings was planned to take place between October and December 2019 but ended up being delayed.

The council has since decided to run two separate consultations, with the Earlestown Town Hall consultation kicking off last week.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service can reveal that a number of engagement drop-in events will take place in a retail unit next to Hays Travel on Church Street from March 3 to 5.

Council leader David Baines said: “We’ve made it very clear that we want to see this iconic building restored and fully open.

“It belongs to the people of St Helens and with its 125th anniversary taking place in 2021 there’s no better time to reopen it to the public.

“While we are fully committed to repairing and reopening the Gamble, it’s important we take this opportunity to make sure it is used in the right way for the greatest benefit to St Helens.

“We need to look at its long-term sustainability, and protect it for future generations.”

This March, a series of public engagement events will be held for residents to help shape the future use of the historic Gamble building.

Situated in Victoria Square in St Helens town centre, the Gamble building was built in the late 1800s and officially opened in 1896, a gift to the people of St Helens by Sir David Gamble.

The internal and external condition of the building has deteriorated over the years, which culminated in the closure of Central Library in 2017 following a ceiling collapse.

The council’s archive service is still based there, along with many council staff.

Back in April 2018 St Helens Council announced plans to establish a temporary library at The World of Glass, part of wider plans to turn the museum into an arts and cultural centre.

A firm date has still not been set for the opening of the new town centre library.

Cllr Anthony Burns, cabinet member for public health, leisure and libraries, said the council remains “committed” to having a quality library in St Helens town centre.

St Helens Star: A new town centre library is set to open in The World of GlassA new town centre library is set to open in The World of Glass

“Work is expected to commence this month to provide a library in the World of Glass, and it’s only right that we ask the public and community groups what they would like to see the Gamble used for long-term – whether that’s a library or some aspects of library services,” Cllr Burns said.

“Whatever is decided, we will have a quality library and the full range of services available to residents in St Helens town centre.”

Labour’s Kate Groucutt, cabinet member for corporate services, estates and communication, urged residents to attend the planned engagement events to help shape the future of the Gamble.

Cllr Groucutt said: “We’re keen to hear from as many residents and community groups as possible on how we can use the building in the future – whether it’s for cultural, educational, heritage, arts or social purposes – so I’d encourage anyone able to do so to attend these events and put their suggestions forward.

“We have had a really positive reaction to the engagement events we’re running on the future of Earlestown Town Hall, and I hope we’ll get a similarly good response on the Gamble building, which means a great deal to so many people.”

Residents can also have their say online by visiting sthelens.gov.uk/council/public-consultation from Monday, March 2. until Friday, March 27.