Halesworth Library fight gathers pace

THE fight to save Halesworth Library and others across the county took a step forward this week after protests were held against the impending cuts.

A crowd gathered outside the library on Saturday morning as they pledged their support for the under-threat services.

About 100 people united in Bridge Street as they explained what their library means to them and urged others to send their thoughts to Suffolk County Council.

At the same time hundreds more were marching through the streets of Ipswich as they protested against the plans to close libraries across the county.

Halesworth has been listed as a possible “county” library by the council, which means that the facility is theoretically safe. However it can still see its level of services changed.

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As a result, campaigners are keen to let the council know why the service means so much to them and on Saturday they gathered together for their library and all of the others in Suffolk.

Both old and young attended, with many writing what the service meant to them on heart-shaped pieces of paper, which they then put on a green tree set up inside the building.

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Local choirs Heartbeat and the Halesworth Community Choir performed, featuring a special lyric composed by Jenni Fleetwood on saving the libraries, while more names were also added to a petition which already has over 1,000 signatures on it.

Tamsyn Imison, of Station Road, Halesworth, said: “Those supporting this important campaign included families, adults, many physically handicapped and the elderly.

“These groups would be most affected by closures of local libraries. No opposition to this campaign has been expressed at any stage.

“Two thirds of our 44 libraries will be lost and the 15 remaining will leave the most needy and vulnerable up to 20 miles away from their nearest library in some cases.”

Suffolk county council has said that it needs to reduce the cost of the library service by at least 30pc within the next three years. It is currently consulting on plans which could see a number of libraries close, unless community groups take them on themselves. The ones that remain could see services reduced or taken over by a private company.

Halesworth Library has an approximate catchment area of 9,446 people and is thought to cost �127,675 to run.

In Ipswich a further 200 people of all ages joined a protest against the cuts.

The march began outside Suffolk County Council’s Endeavour House building and ended at Giles Circus, with protesters walking past Northgate Library along the way.

At the end of the march author Nicci Gerrard made a speech backing the protesters’ campaign and thanking them for their efforts.

The consultation ends on Saturday, April 30. For more details and to have your say visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/LibraryConsultation2011

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