Huge turnout at ‘save our library’ meeting

PUBLISHED: 09:11 12 June 2014 | UPDATED: 09:12 12 June 2014

Jo Hawkins (front left) used the county council's own figures to show Axminster's under-threat library is actually the most cost efficient in Devon. Photo by Chris Carson

Jo Hawkins (front left) used the county council's own figures to show Axminster's under-threat library is actually the most cost efficient in Devon. Photo by Chris Carson

Archant

Axminster Guildhall is packed as the town demands a rethink over plans to downgrade the service

Angry residents packed Axminster Guildhall this week to protest at plans to downgrade the town’s library.

They blasted a message to Devon County Council that any money-saving scheme to run it with volunteers is totally unacceptable.

And they presented surprised officials with a cost breakdown - based on the authority’s own figures – to show that under-threat Axminster library actually offers better value for taxpayers’ money than any other in Devon.

The county council is currently consulting with the public over major changes to its libraries as part of its “tough choices” proposals to reduce spending.

In the local area, the suggestion is to retain Seaton’s “higher use” library as one of several “Devon Centres”, with salaried staff, while running Axminster’s with unpaid helpers.

In the firing line at Monday’s meeting were county council libraries’ spokesman Cllr Roger Croad and head of Devon libraries Ciara Eastell.

Cllr Croad told the gathering that they had to find £1.5million savings over the next three years.

The proposal was to operate 22 professionally-run ‘Devon hub’ libraries and 28 community led ones, using unpaid helpers.

Axminster county councillor Andrew Moulding said he appreciated the authority had to save a tremendous amount of money but their proposals did not accord with the status of his town. Axminster was set to grow by some 50 per cent over the next 12 to 15 years – unlike Seaton whose geography limited its expansion.

Jo Hawkins, spokeswoman for the Support Axminster Library group, was cheered when she used the county council’s own figures to show how Axminster Library was the most cost efficient in Devon – yet the most under resourced.

She said it cost 75p per issue against £1.68 in Seaton and £2.20 in Cullompton.

Axminster also had less spend per head of population than any other Devon library - just £2.19 against £8.76 at Seaton and £10.43 in Barnstable.

She said; “So if all the other libraries were as efficient as Axminster the county council would save £2.2million.”

Cllr Croad said: “I would not argue with your figures and I congratulate you on your research...I would like to take these figures away with me.”

And he urged all the town’s residents to fill in the county council questionnaire about the planned changes to the service.

“If you don’t like the questions cross them out and put you own proposals,” he said.

Cllr Croad added that Axminster library was one of the smallest in the county and finding larger premises might help upgrade it to a hub, which needed to accommodate other community services.

During the town council meeting which followed the public debate members backed Mayor Jeremy Walden’s call to officially oppose any place to replace the professional staff at the library with volunteers and to point out the county council proposals were based on ‘cursory and inaccurate’ figures.

In addition members agreed to explore ways of raising capital to provide an even more comprehensive library service for residents.

Other News Stories

The company has dismissed rumours that it is eyeing a unit in Lace Walk.

Read more
15:02

Residents can apply for one from Monday, October 23

Read more
16:45

Anyone needing to use the M5 to get home may want to take an alternative route.

Read more

The development cost £2.1million to complete and has created 18 jobs locally.

Read more
07:02

“Close co-operation between both teams is essential in promoting our overall goal of saving lives at sea,” says RNLI chief

Read more

Residents of Dunkeswell are being given the opportunity to have their say in shaping the village’s future this week.

Read more
11:58

Exmouth Carnival 2017 – held on Saturday, October 14 – drew big crowds to the town’s streets and raised more than £2,300 for good causes.

Read more

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for wind in East Devon on Saturday (October 21), warning of 50 miles-per-hour winds and possible flooding.

Read more
Yesterday, 16:56

Old £1 coins are no longer being accepted in East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) car parks.

Read more

Local Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 9°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Family notices
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Submit a Story
Buy Photos
Competitions
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Image
Read the Midweek Herald e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Local business directory

Honiton's trusted business finder

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists


Find planning applications