Villagers protest at library closure plans

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets outraged at plans to cut one of their village’s most treasured services.

Capel St Mary’s library is under threat, facing closure along with another 28 of the county’s 44 libraries as Suffolk County Council tries to save 30% of its �9million library budget over the next three years.

Angered at the plans, villagers in Capel gathered in the heart of the village on Saturday to make sure their voices were heard.

So far more than 1,200 people have signed a petition against the plans to close the library and on Saturday about 150 of them turned out with banners to try to convince the county council to rethink its plans.

Parish councillor John Sturgeon, chairman of the library working party, said he was “very pleased” with the show of support.

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He said the knock-on effects of closing the library, the hub of the community, will have far-reaching consequences. “It is not just a library,” he said. “If we lose the library we lose the heart of the village.

“There are countless groups that meet there, the Baby Bounce group for toddlers, there are activities held for children during the school holidays, the primary school holds reading challenges for the youngsters, there is a computer there, it is a vital service.

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“There is a team of three volunteers in the village who pick up and drop off books to people who are housebound, it is unrealistic to think services like this would continue if we lose the library.

“It is used by people living in the surrounding villages, like Bentley and East Bergholt, so hundreds of people will be affected. It will make a big difference. We know there are libraries in Ipswich, but they are not as convenient.”

Mr Sturgeon said the aim of the protest was to force the county council to change its mind.

But he admitted if the worst is to happen villagers are working on alternative plans to run the library, determined to retain the service.

He said the parish council is looking at registering their interest and will put together a business plan if necessary.

The council’s consultation process will run until the end of April and councillor Judy Terry, who is responsible for libraries, has called on more people to come forward and have their say about the plans.

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