Gallery: Protests over cuts to Stowmarket and Debenham libraries
PUBLISHED: 06:00 21 March 2011
COMMUNITIES turned out in force this weekend to continue the fight against controversial cuts to Suffolk's library service.
Campaigners made their feelings known in both Stowmarket and Debenham.
Suffolk County Council is currently consulting on its plans, which could see a number of libraries close unless community groups take them on themselves, while the ones that remain could see services reduced or taken over by a private company.
At the moment Stowmarket is classed as a “county” library – which means it will not close but could see its services transferred into the private sector.
On Saturday around 150 campaigners formed a human chain around the building in Milton Road to show their support for the service.
Town councillor Duncan MacPherson, who helped organise the demonstration, said: “It went very well and there was a lot of people of all ages, including a good number of children.
“The crucial thing is that we don’t want the library classification to change. At the moment we hope it will stay open – but we don’t know what will happen to staff and services.
“It is clear from taking signatures that there is now a concern about that. It is evident that people love the library.
“Clearly this isn’t the end. The fight will continue. It’s important to show local support and we are encouraging people to engage with the county council’s consultation. We want to be part of the solution, even if the county council is the problem.”
Meanwhile, at nearby Debenham there was a read-in between 12noon on Saturday and 4pm yesterday. More than 1,000 people attended and local MP Dan Poulter also popped along to show his support.
The library, which is based at the resource centre in Cross Green, is on a list of 29 libraries under threat and could close if a group does not come along and run it for themselves.
The readers ranged from five to 90 years of age and included a number of authors.
Campaigners also signed a large “save our library” poster wall and there was also other activities, as well as a “wall of books”, which have now been donated to charity.
Organiser Jan McIntyre said she was absolutely delighted with the turn out. The county council is having to change the way libraries are run because it needs to save money.
It wants people to respond to the public consultation and a decision is expected later this year.