Village library ‘in residents’ hands’

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A SUFFOLK County Council boss has urged residents to come up with a plan to save their library.

Roger McMaster, head of the county council’s library service, told a meeting of Lakenheath residents that his drastically slashed budget meant that the village’s library was under threat of closure unless a solution could be found.

Suffolk county councillor Colin Noble organised the meeting for last Thursday at the Peace Memorial Hall in order to gauge public opinion on what should be done to save the library.

The county council are looking to community groups to take over their library’s running – as long as they can provide a legitimate business plan.

By the meeting’s end, a number of residents had started a committee to oversee the library’s future.

After the meeting, Cllr Noble said: “If no solution can be found then the library will close but if the community comes up with a viable plan it can stay.

“Some 906 people signed a petition saying they wanted the library to stay and this is all about working out what we value as a community,” he said.

Mr McMaster told the meeting that his department would be losing 30 per cent of its budget over the next three years.

As a result, community libraries with fewer than 50,000 loans a year – such as Lakenheath – are in the firing line to be closed.

“If nothing changes we can’t run all the libraries in Suffolk - I think that’s just a statement of fact,” he said.

Mr McMaster said the library costs the council £60,000 a year to run. But without the apparatus of the county council it would cost residents around £22,000.

The library’s closure could also mean its sole employee, Chris Howard, being made redundant.

Consultation on the future of Suffolk’s libraries finishes at the end of April.

n Ixworth library meeting – see Page 114.