Town council step in to help Halesworth Library

A council has stepped forward to help fund a Suffolk town's library in a move they hope will build on the existing service.

Halesworth Library's working party has been looking at the future of the service since May last year and now, following its recommendations, the town council will help to fund five per cent of the library's running costs by raising the town precept.

Andrew Jones, councillor and chairman of the working party, said that the issue for the working party had moved from a Save our Library campaign to choosing how to find the money required to help the library continue its level of services.

Dr Jones said: 'We decided to raise the necessary percentage through a small rising of the town precept and I think that is a sound foundation for ensuring continuity in the day to day running, staffing and opening of our library.'

He added: 'Halesworth Town Council believes that our library is so important a part of the town's social fabric and educational infrastructure, that it should meet this cost through a small equitable charge on the local rate.'

Last year, the Halesworth library working party conducted in-depth interviews and Dr Jones said these revealed a deep appreciation of the service.

He added that he did not think that aiming for the library's 'best value' meant being the cheapest and that they were aiming to 'maintain, secure and transform' their service for the better to ensure its comprehensive service.

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The exact details about how much it will cost are still being discussed but Dr Jones said it was 'not a large figure'.

He added there was still much to be decided on the library.

He said: 'The working party firmly believes that, although fundraising may well become necessary, this should be not to protect the existing service, but to produce something even better.'

The future of the library and 28 others in the county had been put into question when Suffolk County Council held a three-month consultation last year.

In April this year, new organisation Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) will take over the management of all 44 libraries and will involve local groups in running their own branches.

On Saturday, Dr Jones will be speaking in Halesworth Library at 10am about its future, to coincide with National Libraries Day.

He said: 'There is still a lot of uncertainty about the future of library management in Suffolk and it will be an attempt to balance the value of the library and recognise this uncertainty.'

Anyone who is interested in the future of the library and how it should be run for the people of the town is invited to go along.

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