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HONITON: Library plans could hit older people

Thursday, 15 May 2014


Proposed changes to library services across Devon are “Orwellian” and cannot be understood by older people, an executive member for Honiton Senior Voice has said. Devon County Council has outlined plans to reduce the number of libraries by around half across the county, with larger buildings, including Honiton, to be converted into ‘Devon Centres’. And at a consultation event held at Honiton Library this week, branch secretary Tony Simpson told members that the language used in the council’s proposals had confused residents and glossed over the reality of “savage” cuts. Mr Simpson said: “The way these plans are expressed is like Orwell’s ‘Ministry of Truth’. It very often means the opposite of what is said and makes it difficult for people to understand, let alone resist what are actually savage cuts in library services. “We do not blame management for the cuts – they’re only doing what they’re told. But even the name ‘library’ is being changed to ‘Devon Centre’ in Honiton and 14 other towns.” Under the proposals, which are up for consultation until July, library space would be shared with other services, with running costs reduced at smaller libraries, where communities would be asked to take on more responsibility for providing services. Alternatives to the mobile library facilities are also to be looked at, which could see more people coming into Honiton to make use of a range of services. Mr Simpson added: “Twenty eight branch libraries are basically being cut or handed over to volunteers and business sponsors. And using the language of ‘developing outreach’, mobile libraries will be cut and hundreds of users, including many older people, will no longer have this service.” A public consultation on the proposed changes lasts until July 17th and comments can be made on Devon County Council’s ‘Tough Choices’ web site at www.devon. gov.uk/libraryreview

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