THE people of Springfield are celebrating after building work on their community library started – 27 years after it was mooted.
Springfield Parish Council and Essex county councillors, wearing hard hats and high-viz jackets, cut a small square of turf to officially launch the construction of Springfield library.
The two councils will share the £800,000 cost of building the education centre at Springfield Parish Centre in St Augustine's Way.
Builder Kier Construction plans to have the library ready by March 2013.
Springfield parish chairman Cllr Susan Sullivan said: "It is a momentous occasion to welcome the construction team on site.
"The culmination of this project is a credit to all the community representatives who have worked so hard.
"In these difficult economic times, it is a particularly welcome addition to local amenities for the benefit of the whole parish."
The project has been scheduled since the 1980s, but continually delayed due to a lack of cash.
In 1995, the project was costed at £650,000, but was delayed again by county budget restraints.
Essex County Council also had an unsuccessful Lottery Fund bid six years ago, which could have meant the end of the project.
But in 2009, a £1.6 million scheme was endorsed after public consultation, which both councils managed to squeeze down to £800,000.
The building will be split in two, with a library on one side and a community room on the other.
With a population of about 14,000, Springfield is the biggest place in Essex without a dedicated library.
Essex culture chief Cllr Jeremy Lucas said: "At a time when we hear about other authorities closing libraries, Essex is proud to be working in partnership with the parish council to create an additional one.
"I believe that branch libraries should be at the hub of local communities and the unique nature of this arrangement will be an excellent example of volunteers and professionals working together."
Clerk at Springfield Parish Council Barbara Larken added: "It was a fantastic day, as turf-cutting goes. We were all so excited about the whole building work starting at long last.
"We have waited so long, they are starting to produce the panelling now and it is the first real sign that this is going to happen.
"So many people in our community have given us really positive feedback about this project, not one negative comment has been said.
"People have come in especially just to say, 'is that really the start of the library?'"