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Suffolk: Top authors condemn libraries axe

PUBLISHED: 09:10 19 January 2011

Baroness Ruth Rendell

Baroness Ruth Rendell

SOME of the country’s top authors have spoken of their shock and anger at Suffolk County Council’s plans to close two thirds of its libraries.

The council’s proposal to axe 29 branches unless volunteers come forward to run them have been described as “shocking and “a terrible tragedy”.

Baroness Ruth Rendell, who lives near Hadleigh, urged local people to fight against the plans.

“I can’t say how strongly I feel about this; what a shocking thing it is,” she said.

“I’m not surprised by the closures, just the number of closures. I don’t know what they think they’re doing – how can they do this to libraries and do this to books? It’s very bad and sad and awful.”

The 80-year-old crime writer, who has sold millions of copies of her novels and is best known for her Inspector Wexford series, said: “Naturally I don’t like the government – I’m a Labour peer – but the idea of closing 29 libraries?

“There are all kinds of things going on at libraries. They might say people don’t read books like they used to and that may be true but it is a great shame.

“A lot of people can’t afford to buy books, particularly older people who have been reading all their lives.”

She added: “I first went into a public library when I was seven and it was lovely, it was my entrance into books.

“The thing is, if they are closed they will never open again.”

Anthony Horowitz, a best-selling author who has written a string of popular children’s novels, called the council’s plans “extremely sad and short-sighted”.

Mr Horowitz, who has a home at Orford, said: “It seems strange on one hand to be concerned about young people and reading and on the other hand so abruptly and blithely taking away the greatest introduction to reading – free books in the local library. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

“I understand the principles of the Big Society and I support the notion of people coming together as volunteers. I will help out myself – but only if I’m asked nicely and not if I’m being pushed into it at gunpoint.”

Comedy writer and satirist Craig Brown, who lives in Aldeburgh, where the town library is earmarked for closure, said: “I do think it’s terrible closing libraries.

“They are an incredible ladder for people who want education and who want books and can’t afford them. I think it should be the lowest on the list of Government cutbacks.”

John McCarthy, a writer, broadcaster and former Lebanese hostage, who lives in the Woodbridge area, said: “Without knowing the financial situation, it is a terrible tragedy that so many libraries are under threat.

“The library is a fantastic resource for children and for everybody to go and read novels and and learn about history.

“It would be a real shame if education, in its broadest sense, is under threat.”

Ipswich Town’s managing director last night criticised the “unwarranted personal abuse” suffered by manager Mick McCarthy and players from fans and the media this season.

A lorry driver warned he may never be able to walk has defied the odds by crossing the finish line of his 200th marathon.

The trial of a 58-year-old Suffolk woman who allegedly claimed benefits without informing the authorities that she owned a property in Spain will take place in April.

After the region was hit by the first major snowfall of the winter on Sunday and earlier today, forecasters have provided an update on whether there will be another wintry blast tonight and early tomorrow morning.

An Ipswich shopkeeper left angry and upset at shoplifters targeting the newsagents he owns is taking a stand and asking customers to knock before he lets them in.

A burglar has been jailed for a year after he was identified through the Facebook account on his mobile which he dropped while stealing from an address.

The mother of missing RAF airman Corrie McKeague has spoken of her “immeasurable” peace of mind after police have this afternoon confirmed that they have ruled out he is in a Milton landfill site.

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