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Philip Evans


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AXMINSTER: Local support helps library

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Axminster Library might escape downgrading after service bosses were impressed by the recent 400 plus consultation drop-in turnout. It is also hoped that a pressure group’s new set of statistics will help keep the library’s current status. Devon County Council has proposed to effectively make a string of libraries, including Axminster, second-tier and volunteer-led facilities as part of a £1.5 million cost-cutting exercise. As part of the proposal, a county-wide series of consultation drop-in events is under way, Axminster’s having been held on May 1st. There is no guarantee that the Axminster proposal will change, but library service bosses have offered to visit Axminster again after witnessing the massive 400 plus turnout on May 1st. The new visit will be as part of the town council meeting on Monday June 9th, confirmed by town, district and county councillor Andrew Moulding. He wants to “fill the Guildhall” for the meeting. When speaking at May’s town council meeting, he said that DCC head of libraries Ciara Eastell had been impressed by what she saw at the Axminster consultation - so had offered to visit again with councillor Roger Croad, who is the DCC Cabinet member responsible for the library service. Members of the Support for Axminster Library Facebook page also attended May’s town council meeting. Member Jo Hawkins said the group had used data provided by DCC to produce statistics showing that, based on issues per opening hour, Axminster Library is the 11th busiest library in the county. She said: “The numbers on the information packs on the decline in usage are misleading because they do not take into account the cut in hours (from 30.5 hours to 21 hours per week) that we accepted three years ago in good faith that our library would remain a viable part of our community. A set of other statistics were also presented, all presenting Axminster Library in a better light than DCC’s consultation pack did. Taking the group’s statistics at face value, town councillors asked for a copy which will be forwarded to DCC before the meeting on June 9th. Councillor Moulding said: “The library service will change, but Axminster has a strong case.” The consultation will run until July 17th, and a definitive set of proposals will go before the county council’s Cabinet in September. The Axminster Library support group is also has a Twitter account named Support 4 Ax Library.

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