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Community groups' plea over Suffolk County Council library plans

PUBLISHED: 16:24 19 October 2011

Love Our Library portest at Eye Library which has been threatened with closure. Hartismere High School pupil Grace Fraser (R) helping to collect signatures with Bernard Harrison and Vicky Uff.

Love Our Library portest at Eye Library which has been threatened with closure. Hartismere High School pupil Grace Fraser (R) helping to collect signatures with Bernard Harrison and Vicky Uff.

Archant © 2011

Frustrated community groups will be writing to Suffolk County Council asking it to tell them where they stand on plans to give them partial control of libraries in their area.

Voluntary groups in Eye, Stradbroke and Debenham were given the go ahead to take over part of the running of their libraries in August as part of county council spending cuts, but have not been told what services they will be taking on from the county council.

Now leaders of the groups are calling for more information saying they cannot budget properly to run the library until they know what they are paying for and they are running out of time to make adequate plans.

Eye mayor and voluntary group member Felix Williams will be writing to the county council to ask what services they will be taking on.

His group has teamed up with volunteers from Stradbroke and Debenham to find a solution to keep the libraries in the three neighbouring villages open.

He said: “It is all progressing rather slowly. We need to understand the responsibilities we will be taking on, which components would be the responsibility of the county still and which would be the responsibility of the locally-run libraries. We have got to move this quickly on. We can’t make any budget decisions until we know which components we are going to be taking on.”

The plan is to move the town’s library from its home in Buckshorn Lane to the former Citizens Advice Bureau premises in Cross Street.

James Hargrave, a member of the Stradbroke Library working group, said his group intended to keep the Stradbroke Library in its current home at the court house in Queen Street, but needed to fund major improvements to the building’s heating system among other repairs.

He also hoped to open a café in the library and open up more space to provide improved facilities for reading groups, homework clubs for children and Christmas craft events.

But a county council spokesman said Guy McGregor, county councillor for Stradbroke, was due to meet the working groups yesterday to discuss what services the council would be running and answer any questions raised by the group’s represtatives about what the council was looking to achieve.

The county council has been setting up a new structure to run the county’s 44 libraries to find savings of 30pc in its library budget.

The mobile library service is looking to save about £250,000 from its £590,000 budget.

dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk

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