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Call for more feedback over libraries review in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 10:56 10 March 2011

Suffolk County Council headquarters; Endeavour House, Ipswich.

Suffolk County Council headquarters; Endeavour House, Ipswich.

Archant

PARISH councils and community groups have been coming up with new proposals to run their local libraries - but Suffolk County Council is keen to get more views on the future of the service.

Half-way through the three-month consultation on the future of the county’s libraries about 1,300 responses have been received from members of the public and organisations.

The consultation continues until April 30 – and after then the council will draw up proposals for divesting the service. Conservative councillor Judy Terry, cabinet lead for the consultation, welcomed the response but she said she wanted to receive even more input.

Innovative ideas already received include:

- A group of town and parish councils looking at ways of creating a community hub;

- A local school looking to take on their library while a local pub wants to boost public internet access by creating an internet café;

- A parish council considering running its local library and incorporating more services into the building;

- A community interest company keen to include a local library within a group of services they would manage, working with neighbouring parishes and libraries to take a collective approach to running a library.

Mrs Terry said: “Suffolk County Council is not trying to close libraries.

“It is entirely wrong to suggest, or even create the perception, that this is happening.

“What we do have to do is save at least 30% of our libraries budget.

“We’re therefore trying to find a way of securing the future of Suffolk’s libraries so that we don’t have to close them.

“We’re looking for new and creative ways of running Suffolk’s libraries, which nowadays serves a much broader function than they used to, and we need the help of Suffolk people.”

Andrew Stringer, leader of the Green group on the county council, said: “What the county won’t say is how these proposals are going to be funded.”

Liberal Democrat Opposition spokeswoman Inga Lockington was also concerned about the funding of the proposals and feared it was inevitable that some libraries would end up being closed as a result of the changes.

Labour culture spokeswoman Bryony Rudkin felt that the kind of solutions being discussed might work in some market towns where there are structures such as parish councils – but she was worried about the impact on community libraries in Ipswich.

She said: “In places like Ipswich what is a community? You might use a library in another part of the town which is not nearest your own home and there are not the structures for people to come together and run the services.”

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