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Town pushing ahead with library pilot bid

PUBLISHED: 09:00 22 August 2011

PLANS for a pilot scheme to keep Aldeburgh Library open have been discussed at a meeting between a community steering group and Suffolk County Council officers.

The county council is working with various organisations – including town and parish councils, community groups, a staff collective and an independent community company – to deliver seven pilot projects that will keep open 14 libraries that had been threatened with closure.

Dedicated groups will now take over part or all of the running of the libraries, which are set to “go live” in April next year.

Among those is Aldeburgh and last night Clive Fox, chairman of the steering group, said progress was being made and the pilot should be ready for the launch in eight months.

Mr Fox said more details would be announced later this week but that the proposals had been well-received by the officers.

He said: “All I can say at the moment is that we did meet with council officers on Thursday and the process for discussing the start-up of the Aldeburgh pilot next April has begun but there’s lots more detailed discussion to be had.

“The key point is that Aldeburgh is one of the seven pilots.

“That pilot is what we put in our proposal last April and that’s what we are now pursuing.”

County council bosses had said that 29 libraries would have to shut unless people came forward to run them themselves.

However, after a huge public outcr,y the council made a U-turn and instead said it would oversee a new organisation to help run them.

A decision on how that will work will be made in November following a best-value evaluation.

As well as Aldeburgh, Bungay, Thurston, Sudbury and Wickham Market libraries will stay open under pilot schemes while Eye, Debenham and Stradbroke libraries will come together under another.

Gainsborough, Chantry, Ipswich, Stoke, Rosehill and Westbourne libraries will work as partners in the seventh pilot scheme.

All the pilots are different, giving the county council the opportunity to establish the most successful and cost-effective.

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