New figures boost fight to save Axminster Library

07:39 22 May 2014

Axminster Library - campaigners say they have figures to show it

Axminster Library - campaigners say they have figures to show it's Devon's most efficient

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Campaigners claim they can show it is the most cost efficient in the whole of Devon

County councillor  Andrew Moulding says new figures show Axminster has a strong case for saving its professionally-run  libraryCounty councillor Andrew Moulding says new figures show Axminster has a strong case for saving its professionally-run library

Campaigners fighting to safeguard library services at Axminster claim they have figures to prove it is the most cost effective in Devon

And they are calling on the county council to abandon plans to downgrade it to a volunteer-run service.

The authority is currently consulting with the public over major changes to its libraries as part of its “tough choice” cost cutting proposals.

The suggestion is to retain Seaton’s “higher use” library as one of several “Devon Centres”, with paid staff, while running Axminster’s with unpaid helpers.

But a delegation of users campaigning against Axminster becoming a community-led library attended the town council meeting last week armed with figures to back their case.

Speaking for the group Jo Hawkins told members they could show that Axminster was the most efficient library in the whole of Devon. It cost 75p per issue against £1.68 in Seaton and £2.13 in Barnstaple.

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 Barnstaple.

She said six proposed Devon Centres supported a smaller population than Axminster – including one that would need substantial redevelopment.

And she said current comparisons were not fair because Axminster library’s hours had been reduced from 30.5 to 21.

“If you use a fair statistic such as issues per opening hour Axminster has actually had an increase of 21 per cent,” she said. “Fourteen of the proposed Devon Centres have had a decrease in issues per open hours”.

In their statement to the council the campaigners added:

“Tough Choices? The choice according to our data are not so though if it is about saving money as claimed.

Axminster is the most efficient in Devon

It has had a 21 per cent increase in borrowing per hours open

It is the 17th largest population area in Devon and is due to grow.

Axminster town, district and county councillor Andrew Moulding congratulated the campaigners on putting forward figures they could all understand. He said they would put them to representatives from the county council who had agreed to attend the next town council meeting to take questions on the proposed changes to the library service.

“We now have a very good case to make for Axminster being a fully committed library,” he said.

Mayor Jeremy Walden added: “We shall fight to keep our library run professionally with professional staff.”

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