1,700 signatures on petition

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DEDICATED library supporters have collected more than 1,700 petition signatures in a bid to save the threatened county library system.

A campaign to save Suffolk libraries from possible closure and divestment has been launched by a group of Stowmarket Library users.

Following the success of a protest last month, in which crowds of people formed a huge human chain around the town library, campaigners have rallied around to collect more than 1,700 signatures.

Stowmarket town councillor Duncan Macpherson, who led the campaign, handed over the petition to county councillor Anne Whybrow on Wednesday morning.

Cllr Whybrow said: “I’m thrilled to see that we have got approximately 10 per cent of our population to sign this petition.

“I will give it to the portfolio holder and I will be able to stress in very strong terms how important this library is to the population of Stowmarket and the greater area.”

Ron Pattle, chairman of Stowmarket Library Users Group (Slug), believes the library is important for everyone.

He said: “The library is vitally important for everybody, from children to old people.

“Various functions go on besides lending books – it’s indispensable.”

Residents in Stowmarket are confident that their library will be safe from closure, but are aware that it is still threatened by possible divestment.

A letter from Suffolk County Council warned Stowmarket Town Council that all libraries in Suffolk are expected to be divested, as part of the new strategic direction, within 12 to 18 months.

On Thursday, David Ruffley MP accepted a petition from a group of Needham Market residents who are also concerned about their library.

“Libraries are a fundamental part of small town life,” said Mr Ruffley.

Public consultation on the future of Suffolk’s Libraries closes on April 30. For more information go to www.suffolk.gov.uk/LibrariesConsultation2011