BELHUS Library will be closed until March as the first steps towards creating a new community hub in South Ockendon are taken.

The library, in Derry Avenue, is set to become the initial home for the South Ockendon Centre, and the changes will see the building closed from 5pm on Tuesday, January 8, until Monday, March 25.

In an effort to minimise disruption, Aveley Library will be open for longer than usual from 10am to 1pm Monday to Friday, and Belhus’ Baby Rhyme Time sessions will be held on Friday mornings from 10.30am to 11am at the South Ockendon Forum in Derwent Parade, and on Friday afternoons from 2pm to 2.30pm at Aveley library.

Thurrock Council leader John Kent said: “Although there will be some disruption, this is a really good news story.

“Councils across the country are closing libraries and we are investing to ensure we don’t have to do that.

“These hubs or centres will become the way council services are delivered in years to come, working in partnership with the wider community so people’s needs are met in the best and most efficient way possible.”

The plan is for public and community services to work side-by-side from the centre, offering a “market place” of information, guidance, and support for people in the area.

The aim is to open a wider system of hubs around the borough in the coming months and years.

A major consultation on the South Ockendon Centre was held in the town and the plans have been before the council’s cabinet and planning committee.