10:00am Friday 15th July 2011
By Adrianne Maslen
vLYME Regis Library has been saved but the threat of closure still looms over Charmouth.
Councillors will consider two final options for the future of the library service at a meeting of Dorset County Council on July 21 when members will be asked to consider withdrawing funding from nine of its 34 libraries.
However, library campaigners were given hope as the council’s cabinet also put forward an option to keep all 34 libraries open, with £800,000 savings met through other means such as reduction of the book fund and staff.
While Lyme Regis is on the ‘safe list’, Charmouth is among the nine libraries that could lose funding.
West Moors, which had been on the list of 10 threatened libraries, has also been added to the list of libraries that would be retained under the proposal.
Campaigners in Charmouth were left disappointed following last Wednesday’s meeting.
Hazel Robinson, chairman of the Friends of Charmouth Library, said: “It was disappointing to campaigners that the discussion was so unbalanced. “There were literally, hundreds of pages of words and lengthy speeches in support of Proposal B to close 10 libraries and very little on the merits of Proposal D which retains all libraries without any reduction in hours.”
She added: “For some inexplicable reason, Dorset Library Service officers and portfolio holder Hilary Cox are vehemently opposed to it.”
Director of adult and community services Debbie Ward said that those communities that lost council funding would be offered the chance to take on the running of the service.
She said: “It is challenging but there is a very clear and workable offer.”
Mrs Ward said the alternative proposal, favoured by campaign group Ad Lib (the Association of Friends of Dorset Libraries), is to retain funding to all 34 libraries and make cuts across the service included reducing the book fund to £434,400.
She said this was nearly £100,000 below the fund proposed in the first option and the figure council officers believed was appropriate’.
Mrs Cox said: “It is very clear that going forward we must do our best to future-proof the service.”
Mrs Robinson said the prospect of trying to set up community-run libraries is ‘unpalatable, perhaps impossible’.
She added: “AdLib invites as many supporters as possible to attend the meeting at County Hall on July 21 to show that we have not lost our enthusiasm to retain all our libraries and believe that the democratic will of the people of Dorset should prevail.”
Marshwood Vale county councillor Col Geoff Brierley has welcomed the news that Lyme Regis is safe but said the battle is still on in Charmouth.
He said: “I have been involved in library closures since I became a councillor 10 years ago and this is the fifth time I have stood up in council to fight the closure of libraries. It’s time it stopped.
“Stop mucking about with the libraries and muck about with something else.”
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group