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Ipswich: Borough council demands that town libraries are saved

PUBLISHED: 15:00 24 February 2011

Liz Harsant

Liz Harsant

Archant

IPSWICH: Borough chiefs have written to their county council counterparts in a last-ditch bid to stop libraries closing in the town.

The move was revealed by Ipswich Borough Council boss Liz Harsant during a stormy meeting at Endeavour House in Ipswich last night.

It comes after Suffolk County Council last week voted through sweeping cuts to library and lollipop services as the authority aims to save £42.5 million over the next year.

Cllr Harsant also announced that discussions were under way with a company prepared to sponsor a number of school crossing patrols in the town.

The Tory leader said: “Nobody on this side wants to see the libraries close down or school crossing patrols stopped – but these are not the responsibility of this council!

“However, I have asked our chief executive to write to the chief executive of Suffolk County Council (Andrea Hill) to tell her that Ipswich Borough Council wants to see libraries remain wherever possible.

“We have expressed an interest in working with Suffolk County Council in order to achieve this. We do take it seriously and we intend to have meetings before we start throwing money at it.”

She added: “We all would like to see lollipop services retained as well. We all want to ensure that children get to school safely.

“We have been working with a potential sponsor and meetings have been going very well. The sponsor is prepared to pay for some of the lollipop service to be retained.

“We hope to have a result very soon, but can’t divulge who the sponsor is at this stage.”

Councillors clashed over proposals to spend £240,000 on locality budgets for councillors.

Under the plans, borough councillors are given around £5,000 each, which they can decide to spent on community projects.

Labour councillors proposed an amendment to the plans – asking that the budgets be scrapped and the money instead used on saving school crossing patrols and retaining library services.

David Ellesmere, leader of the Labour group, said: “Most people are more concerned about the loss of libraries and lollipop service than making a small saving on their council tax.

“We propose to spend the £240,000 on saving these facilities and put the remainder into the council’s reserves.”

However, the amendment was quashed after concerns were raised about the amount of money needed to fund the services.

Andrew Cann, Lib Dem councillor, said the funds wouldn’t be enough to fully run libraries in the town and urged councillors to instead spend their locality budgets on saving school crossing patrols.

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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