Ipswich: Crowd sign up to save library

IPSWICH: Westbourne Library was packed to capacity by people keen to show support for a campaign to save it from closure.

A meeting was held to discuss the future of the library, currently under threat by Suffolk County Council budget cutting plans.

The meeting was arranged by councillor Inga Lockington and The Broomhill Pool Trust to establish whether a friends group could help compensate the funding loss and save the library.

Garath Jones, spokesman for the newly-formed Friends of Westbourne Library group, said: “We were overwhelmed by the response from the public, and their passionate desire to retain this popular and well-used library.

“As an outcome of the meeting, we have around 200 registered friends of the library and have agreed to form a ten-person committee to carry out their wishes.”

The friends claim Westbourne receives 77,000 visits each year – a figure at odds with the council’s total of 32,000 from its 2010 budget report.

The council also says book loans are down between 40 and 80 per cent across the region and are trying to “offload” smaller libraries on to the community.

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But the friends argue the fact the library is used by residents across north west Ipswich and from neighbouring villages means it has been unjustly earmarked.

Mr Jones continued: “It has been offloaded as a ‘community facility’, when in fact it should be retained as a county library.

“Our two key objectives are to campaign and lobby Suffolk County Council to reclassify Westbourne Library as a county library, and to plan for the worst by exploring the financial viability of the library, how it can operate on a reduced budget, and whether a community trust can deliver a future for the facility.”

Councillor Lockington added: “It was amazing to see so many people of all ages who just want this service to remain. And now we have a group to take us forward.

“The library is so important for the whole of north Ipswich and beyond.

“I want to thank everyone who came along and the library staff.”

n How will you be affected by the council cuts? Write to Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.