Suffolk: Over 18,000 sign libraries petition

MORE than 18,000 signatures from people demanding that Suffolk’s libraries be kept open have been handed over to council chiefs.

Petitions signed by people from across the region were handed over to staff at Suffolk County Council’s Endeavour House Headquarters yesterday.

Dozens of protesters attended the event and there were even some mild exchanges as the documents were handed over to county councillor Judy Terry, who is overseeing a consultation on the plans.

The number of signatures received is well above the 3,600 required to re-ignite a council debate on the issue and a council spokesman said the issue would be examined.

Two-thirds of the county’s 44 libraries will close if no-one comes forward to take them over as the council tries to save 30 per cent of its �9million library budget over the next three years.

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Steve Smedley, who has been campaigning to save Leiston Library, said: “When the different petitions are combined I believe they total over 18,000 signatures.

“That is a fantastic response and if it doesn’t show the strength of feeling to the council then nothing will.

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“Our library in Leiston is at the heart of the community and serves people from children to pensioners. If it wasn’t worth fighting for I wouldn’t be here.”

John Ellison, who is campaigning to save Stanton Library, added: “The council have mis-judged this one and hopefully something can be done.

“This is an unprecedented move. We have people here today from right across the county fighting for a common goal.”

Jennie Pinkie, from Saxmundham, added: “I’m proud to be here and to see the petitions handed over after months of hard campaigning.”

Councillor Judy Terry told the protesters that the council were “looking at all the options” but denied claims that libraries were being sold off.

The county council is currently carrying out a consultation over the proposals which is set to end on April 30.

A number of community groups have already put themselves forward to run some libraries but no decisions will be made until the consultation period.

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