New community partners announced for Cobbett Road Hub

The operators will pilot new public library opening hours starting on 31 January 2024

Following a call out for potential partners, Southampton City Council has appointed community radio operator Awaaz FM, supported by sister station Fiesta FM, to run Cobbett Road Hub in Bitterne Park.

The news comes after the previous operator withdrew from the site because of the effects of COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the building has continued to be used for a variety of activities including exercise, well-being, and homework support groups, while the Friends of Cobbett Road Library have maintained the gardens and run several community events.

The council has been working with Awaaz FM and Fiesta FM to review the library offer and will continue to provide books, computers, printing, and Wi-Fi and help to train volunteers to support the reopening of the library service this month.

Cobbett Road Hub will initially be open to the public between 1pm and 5pm on:

  • Wednesday 31 January 2024
  • Wednesday 7 February 2024
  • Wednesday 14 February 2024
  • Wednesday 21 February 2024
  • Wednesday 28 February 2024

Members of the public are welcome to call in to meet the new operators, see what is on offer, and find out about becoming library volunteers. Awaaz FM and Fiesta FM will consult with the community to agree on future opening arrangements following the pilot and details will be announced on the council’s website.

In addition to the library, which residents can use in the same way as other Southampton City Council partnership libraries, Awaaz FM and Fiesta FM have plans to provide:

  • A community podcasting studio, with opportunities to broadcast recordings on the sister radio stations
  • Access to a counselling service
  • Community spaces of different sizes to hire
  • A space for community events and a meeting place for the Friends of Cobbett Road Library
  • Opportunities to join and volunteer with the two community radio stations

Councillor Lorna Fielker, Leader of Southampton City Council, said:

“Libraries are so much more than books and bricks, so I’m really pleased that Awaaz FM and Fiesta FM are working with the Friends of Cobbett Road Library to deliver a fantastic community offer and make a success of this exciting new venture. On behalf of the council, I would like to extend our thanks to the Friends for all their hard work and support through this process.”

Ali Beg from Awaaz FM said:

“This opportunity to reopen and run Cobbett Road Hub is an exciting moment for us and we hope to work together with local community groups to run activities and create a learning hub as well as having a podcasting room to help upskill people with their technological skills. We see a great future ahead for the use of the site and look forward to meeting with local community groups to share ideas and projects during the pilot opening times.”