Save Bungay Library - latest plans

LOSING Bungay library is not an option – that was the pledge this week from the town council as it began the task of drawing up plans to keep it open.

It is one of the county’s libraries set to close by April 2012 unless the community can come up with a plan to run it, as Suffolk seeks to cut millions of pounds from its overall budget.

At their meeting on Monday members backed four proposals drawn up at an informal meeting on Thursday:

l To develop realistic and viable alternatives to closure to meet the county’s deadline for response (April 30).

l To set up a cross-community action group or working party to take the campaign forward.

l That the council should be part of that group but not in overall control.

l To be facilitators, leaders and negotiators.

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l To initiate discussions with Beccles, Halesworth and Southwold to see how they could work together to create better library facilities and make greater savings.

The decisions came after Bungay’s county councillor David Ritchie told members he had been impressed with the efforts the council, and Sustainable Bungay, were making on the issue, and he was doing everything he could to get the best result for the library.

He said in the last 10 years the use of libraries in Suffolk had gone down by 40pc – “but when you look at the figure more closely the use of Bungay library in that period had gone up”.

He added: “Figures like that are showing a different picture. Use at Beccles has gone down by 43pc. The way forward is definitely to put a positive plan to Suffolk County Council on how Bungay could run its library on your terms, and get in early – fly the flag for Bungay, show we can run it on a good basis.”

John Palin pointed out that Norfolk was saving its libraries and waste sites while Suffolk was closing its facilities.

Two weeks ago the town held a read-in at its library to demonstrate how important it was to the town, with leading author Elizabeth Jane Howard and television actress Matilda Zeigler among the 220 people there to show their support.

The library is only 19 years old, having been opened in 1992 on the site of the former Trinity Rooms, helped by a gift of �150,000 from Bungay benefactress Kathleen Bowerbank. Many reading groups and other organisations meet there.

Thursday is World Book Night and those heading the campaign want as many as possible to go along to the library between 7-9pm.

There will be live music in the library gallery, a book swap stall in the courtyard garden and a gaggle of local authors, including Mrs Howard and rising poetry star Luke Wright.

Josiah Meldrum, one of those leading the campaign, said: “As well as poetry readings, conversation and gentle musings on the joy of books and libraries we will be asking local authors to write some thoughts in the front our scrapbook. The scrapbook is called What Bungay Library Means to Me and is full of photos taken at the Read-In, along with the 100s of statements pinned to the notice board by all of you.

“It’s a powerful thing and we plan to present it to Suffolk County Council in Ipswich sometime in the near future.

“Waveney MP Peter Aldous has agreed to come with us if he’s in the county, which might really help us get it into the hands of the chief executive or council leader.”