Cause of flooding still being investigated 5 months later as full reopening date of Leighton Buzzard Library is announced

Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre
Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre

Central Beds Council says it is still investigating the precise cause of extensive flooding at Leighton Buzzard Library – five months after the incidents which have led to the building’s prolonged closure.

The council announced today (Friday) that the full reopening of the Lake Street building has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 12.

But it appears no nearer to getting right to the bottom of what caused the flooding which occurred twice within the space of a fortnight during December – although it has previously stated it was linked to issues with recently installed pipework.

The ground floor of the building was badly affected by the second incident, with the children’s library and adult fiction and non-fiction areas worst hit.

Since January 2 a basic library service has been offered from the first floor, with the theatre operating as normal.

The council says the last few months has seen it carry out repairs following the extensive damage, which accounted for more than £21,000 of books and up to £17,000 of furniture.

It says the length of time taken has been necessary to allow the concrete floor to dry out completely.

The next steps are to make good the floor, level it and lay new carpet tiles before returning furniture and brand-new stock to the first floor, while also reorganising and tidying the first floor.

To complete this work the library will close from June 8-9 before reopening on June 12.

Cllr Ian Dalgarno, Executive Member for Community Services, said: “We’re looking forward to seeing Leighton Buzzard Library restored and getting back to offering a full service.

“It has been a frustrating period, but unfortunately the full extent of the damage could not be determined until the ground floor was completely dry, so I thank all residents and library users for their patience over this issue.

“Investigations are ongoing to determine what caused the flood, but our first priority is making sure our residents have a library that is fully operational and an enjoyable and safe place to visit.

“When the library opens on June 12 we will have a host of new titles to choose from, the children’s library will be restored, and we’ll have a full range of services on offer once more.”

One library user described the situation as a “fiasco” and said: “I wish to know if the council has claimed costs for the disruption and have established how this sad state of affairs was allowed to occur. I wish to know if our rates money is being spent wisely and whether the contractor is likely to be used again.”

He added: “Was the work undertaken to a satisfactory standard? Was the contractor paid before the work was checked as satisfactory? Was the same contractor involved in the first set of repairs and why was the library flooded a second time?”

Central Beds Council has previously stated: “If the fault is directly attributable to workmanship or faulty fittings we will address this with the contractor or manufacturer accordingly and would seek compensation for all costs incurred and loss of service.”