CAMPAIGNERS in Charmouth have vowed to look positively to the future after their bid to save the village library was foiled by a single vote.

After months of debate and protests on the future of Dorset’s libraries, the final decision came down to the last vote at a meeting of Dorset County Council.

Supporters of the Ad Lib (Association of Friends of Dorset Libraries) were on the steps of County Hall to make their views heard ahead of the meeting in a packed council chamber.

Councillors were asked to vote on two proposals for the future of Dorset’s library service in a bid to save £800,000. The first proposal, known as Option B, involved withdrawing core funding to nine of the county’s 34 libraries while the second, Option D, proposed making cuts across the whole service to achieve the saving and retain all of the libraries.

When members went to vote on the two options, the decision was in the balance until council chairman John Wilson cast the last vote to see Option B win by 21 votes to 21.

The vote means funding has been withdrawn from Charmouth library and eight others – Burton Bradstock, Chickerell, Corfe Castle, Colehill, Portland Underhill, Puddletown, Stalbridge and Wool.

There is better news for Lyme Regis and Beaminster libraries, which have both been spared the axe.

Hazel Robinson, chairman of the Friends of Charmouth Library, was among those at County Hall last Thursday.

She said library users in Charmouth need not be afraid that it will close overnight.

“We have until September 2012 to come up with a community scheme to keep the library open and to find the funds and volunteers, which will be necessary,” she said.

“Though it’s difficult at the moment, we have to try to look at this positively. In the next few weeks, in co-operation with the parish council, we shall be asking Charmouth residents for their wish lists. We must look at this decision as our chance to make the library into a real social hub for the village in a way that has not been possible in the past.

“Unless we can do this and unless there is sufficient support, the library will close forever.”


DORSET County Council said it would offer support worth £5,000 to the affected communities.

Talks will now take place with the nine affected communities about the community take-over before the changes are implemented next year.

The council is proposing to provide books, computers, self-service facilities and staffing expertise to support the communities if they want to take over responsibility for their library building – valued at more than £5,000 for each library.

Council leader Angus Campbell said: “This was not an easy decision. We know that libraries are very important to many people.

“We have improved the community offer and increased the number of libraries to be retained by the council.

“We must ensure that the library service is sustainable into the future and I believe retaining all 34 libraries would have seriously damaged that approach – bleeding the service dry for a short-term fix.”