THE campaigns to save Lyme Regis and Charmouth libraries have stepped up another gear this week.

Protests and public meetings are planned in the days ahead as Dorset County Council considers whether to close 20 of its 34 libraries.

The council is currently consulting on proposals to withdraw funding from the earmarked libraries as it seeks to save nearly £55million over the next three years.

Objectors put their case to councillors at a meeting of the authority’s community overview committee last week.

Graham Lee, chairman of the newly-formed Association of Friends of Dorset Libraries or Ad Lib, said his group was ‘determined that Dorset should have a good and effective library service’.

Representing Lyme Regis Library at the meeting were members of the Local Area Partnership and the town council, led by Lyme Regis Development Trust chairman Wendy Davies.

Mrs Davies urged councillors to consider alternative, innovative solutions rather than ‘irrevocably destroying’ the library network.

Mrs Davies said: “It should be recognised that in rural areas, including Lyme Regis, the library service is almost the sole amenity available.”

She added: “You need to be very sure of the ground before irrevocable decisions are taken in reaction to a short-term financial problem.”

Lyme campaigners are holding a public meeting at Woodmead Halls on Monday, January 31, which everyone is urged to attend.

The petition, available at the town council offices, Lyme Stores and Fordhams in Broad Street, and LymeNet has so far collected more than 350 signatures.

A protest will be held outside Charmouth Library at 11am on Saturday which residents are invited to join.

Residents are also urged to contact West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin by emailing The county council’s cabinet member for community services Hilary Cox has defended the proposed cutbacks to local library services.

She said: “We in Dorset have been having a champagne library service for many years.”