Town council calls on public to save library

10:40 23 April 2014

Archant

Budleigh’s civic leaders are calling for the whole town to come up with ideas to secure the future of its library.

Devon County Council (DCC) announced two weeks ago that it would be consulting on its libraries, and said that 28, including Budleigh, would have to have increased community involvement or the services there risked ending.

Budleigh Salterton Town Council held a special meeting on the issue, following councillors’ discussions with Councillor Roger Croad, DCC’s cabinet member for libraries.

Although town mayor Councillor Steve Hall said the town council had been told by Cllr Croad that there was ‘no question’ of the library closing, speaking after the meeting Cllr Croad said that, while DCC was not running a closure programme, he was not able to make a total guarantee.

Cllr Croad said: “In the true tradition of ‘never say never’ I can say that this is not a closure programme, what I clearly cannot say is that no library will close.

“I am saying that the library service is part of the lifeblood of communities and we do intend to keep it going where humanly possible but some libraries will have to be run in different ways.”

The cost of running Budleigh Salterton Library is £67,000 a year, or around £54,000 net when including income, and Cllr Croad said DCC would be looking to save around 50 per cent of this figure.

Cllr Hall told the meeting: “DCC is responsible for that building and sees no reason why it couldn’t continue to be.

“They will be responsible for the cost of supplying books in future. What the town council would need to look at is how the library is run and what other forms of usage we could consider to utilise the building more and increase its income.

“With increased income streams, once we have these suggested during the consultation the town council can formulate its response.

“This building is very precious to us, and we need to be looking at ideas of how we can utilise it better.

“The town council takes this news extremely seriously and we want to be there at the forefront with a formulated response during the consultation period.

“We need to see input from members of the public and councillors. We need some very good ideas coming forward on its utilisation in the future.”

The consultation on DCC’s library plan will run for 12 weeks.

Residents can take part by going to www.toughchoices.co.uk, or forms will also be available in the library.

To allow the town council to put together its own response to the consultation, it has asked that all responses are also copied to town clerk Jo Vanstone, by writing to Budleigh Salterton Town Council, Council Offices, Station Road, Budleigh Salterton, EX9 6RJ, or emailing office@budleighsaltertontowncouncil.gov.uk.

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