Stradbroke: Library lifeline fight

Scores of worried villagers turned out last night to try to save their library.

They met to grill county council representatives over the proposed closure of Stradbroke Library, one of 29 in Suffolk facing the axe.

Stradbroke campaigners say their library is a “lifeline” to villagers because the nearest alternative in Halesworth is 13 miles away.

The strength of feeling is such campaigners were able to hand over a 700-signature petition to county councillor Guy McGregor, opposing the library’s closure.

James Hargrave, spokesman for the Save Stradbroke Library Campaign, said Cllr McGregor had come under fire from the 150-strong crowd. He said they were upset that as a cabinet member Cllr McGregor – who represents the village on Suffolk County Council – had voted for the library cuts.

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“It was particularly emotional, actually,” said Mr Hargrave, summing up the feeling from the meeting, which was held in the community centre. “It’s a local library that people value and it’s a lifeline for the young and old of the community.”

Mr Hargrave said the options open to the village were to go into partnership with the county council, find a commercial benefactor or let the library close. But he said with no major employer nearby the commercial option was unlikely.

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He said villagers were keen to volunteer to help run the library but felt the county council should employ a librarian to oversee and organise the operation.

Mr Hargrave added: “They [Suffolk County Council] have said that they’ll listen to that, whether they will or not some people feel a bit cynical.

“People did not just come to scream and shout, people were coming up at the end and offering to help and some people even offered to pay for the books.”

The meeting began with a video featuring people talking about what Stradbroke library meant to them. Roger McMaster, head of Suffolk libraries, who joined Cllr McGregor at the meeting, admitted the clip had been “very moving”.

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