A Royal rescue for Kessingland Library?
PUBLISHED: 09:42 08 April 2011
WAVENEY'S newest library is set to get the Royal seal of approval in June - just weeks before a crucial decision that could see its funding cut.
It was announced that week that the Princess Royal will visit Kessingland on Wednesday, June 1, to ‘officially open’ the Marram Green building, where community facilities include a sheltered housing complex and the village library.
But with a county council consultation into the future of Kessingland and 28 libraries set to end on Saturday, April 30, a final decision on its future is likely to be made by the Cabinet when it meets in July – just a month after the Princess’s visit.
Campaigners this week said they hoped the Royal visit would act as a catyalst to save the library which faces closure along with those in Oulton Broad, Southwold and Bungay under plans by the county council to cut millions of pounds from its budget.
Efforts are currently being made to find new groups willing to run them.
Liam Martin, chairman of Kessingland Parish Council, said: “Kessingland Library is one of those under threat because of the changes being implemented by the county council and the royal visit can only give the campaign to save it a much-needed boost.”
He said he was delighted the Princess would be visiting the Marram Green complex in Hall Road, which also includes a very sheltered housing complex and opened less than 18 months ago as part of a £5.6m community project.
“It will be a very proud day for Kessingland and the Princess Royal can be assured of a very warm welcome,” he said.
The parish council was involved in the project from its earliest days when planning meetings were held and various options discussed. “The complex has made a big difference to the residents of Kessingland,” Mr Martin added. “It has been a great success and is being held up as an example that other communities across the country can use,” said Mr Martin.
Kessingland library - which is described on the county council’s website as a “purpose-built library” and “unique among libraries in Suffolk, being located in a very sheltered housing scheme in the centre of the village” - was listed as one of 29 branches that are under threat of closure as part of swingeing council cuts to reduce £42.5m from its budget.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who will hold a surgery at the Kessingland Parish Council offices within Marram Green in May, welcomed the news of the Royal visit. “Obviously, having the Princess Royal is a tremendous fillip for everyone as she opens a facility which is very much at the heart of the whole community,” he said. “It’s great news and many congratulations go to those involved in getting Her Royal Highness there.
“As far as the library is concerned, I went to the Kessingland Parish Council meeting recently and they explained how they were putting proposals forward to keep the facility open and running it themselves. I offered them my support to do that, and I continue to do that.
“With the library consultation due to finish at the end of this month I would urge everyone to make representations as I think a library is very important to Kessingland and its very important it continues,” Mr Aldous added.
Going even further than this, former Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said: “It beggars belief that Suffolk County Council want to close Kessingland Library.
“It will be insulting to Princess Anne if they do so – and I would go as far to say as it would be rude if they do in fact close the library after she comes to the village to officially open this facility.
“Kessingland is the biggest village in Suffolk;- it needs and deserves its library. It has waited a long time for this new facility, which is an integral part of the whole communityDuring her visit, The Princess will tour the complex, run by Flagship Suffolk Heritage and comprises 32 two-bedroom very sheltered flats as well as incorporating parish council offices, community rooms, Kessingland Library and a café.
Don Evans, Managing Director of Flagship said, “We are thrilled to have the Princess Royal visit our very sheltered housing scheme. In partnership with the library, public café and parish council, Marram Green has become well established in the community and we are very proud of what we have achieved.”
A county council spokesman insisted this week that the Royal visit would hav “no impact on the outcome of the libraries consultation.”
As well as opening the Marram Green complex on June 1, the Princess Royal will also be the guest of honour at the first day of this year’s Suffolk Show at Trinity Park, Ipswich.
• Southwold Town Council this week confirmed it had written to Suffolk County Council opposing the possible closure of Southwold Library - backed by representations from Reydon, Wangford and Walberswick parish councils whose residents also use it. “At the same time a representative group of those councils, without making any commitment, will be expressing an interest in taking over responsibility for the library,” a Southwold Town Council spokesman said this week.