THERE was good and bad news for West Dorset after the Dorset County Council voted to axe funding for nine of its 34 libraries.

Funding for Charmouth and Burton Bradstock has been withdrawn but Beaminster will carry on as it has been partly staffed by volunteers and partly by a professional librarian.

However, campaigners who made the case for Beaminster are happy they will be there to serve their community, though it doesn’t feel like a celebration, they say.

Volunteer Jennifer Duncan, who worked on the case to save the town’s library said: “I think it is absolutely right that Beaminster should have been saved because there are so many people here who would have been penalised by not being able to get to the library.

“We are happy to know that we are safe but there are an awful lot of people left who don’t have that right any more.

“Charmouth were in the same position as us, maybe not quite so many and maybe a little nearer Bridport or Lyme.

“It is just a great pity they are not going to be saved and a great pity councillors didn’t look at option D – where everybody made savings – in more detail before this.”

Ms Duncan added that the library was used on an almost daily basis by the elderly giving them somewhere to go – and that would be true of all communities.

Bob Hynds, who headed the working group for Burton Bradstock’s library, said nothing would change because the village could afford to take on the library without funding from the county council.

It has had since 2007 to get established as a community library after the last round of library cuts.

He said: “We are not going because we can afford the rental terms. We have the funds to run it as a community library but the other eight are not so well placed. We have built up the volunteers and the funding by a sub from the Friends of Burton Library and there are about 160 of us.”

The building is on a 99-year peppercorn lease and the community has to meet the £2,500 annual running costs.

Library campaigners trying to save the nine threatened facilities were left ‘bitterly disappointed’ after their bid to save them was foiled by a single vote.

After months of debates and protests on the future of Dorset’s libraries, the final decision came down to the chairman’s casting vote.

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 last week’s meeting.

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 service 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.

Coun Ronald Coatsworth pleaded to keep all the libraries open saying he was outraged at the way the figures from the consultation were interpreted.

He said: “We have heard of lies, damn lies and statistics and it seemed to me that here was another case of distorted figures being used as a justification for a particular course of action which had been pre-determined.

“They are discriminatory, treating different groups in different ways and have no place in the Dorset I represent.”

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