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Philip Evans


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AXMINSTER: Call for town to turn out in force to oppose library downgrading

Thursday, 05 June 2014

Axminster Library supporters are hoping for another massive turnout in their quest to prevent a downgrade. Buoyed by the 400 plus turnout for the recent drop-in consultation event, members of Support for Axminster Library hope for a repeat when Devon County Council (DCC) bosses visit the the town council on Monday, June 9th in Axminster Guildhall (7pm). Devon County Council has proposed to make a string of libraries, including Axminster, second-tier, and volunteer-led facilities without professional librarians as part of a £1.5 million cost-cutting exercise. The plans are strongly opposed amd a group of residents set up Support for Axminster Library to fight the proposals. DCC Library Service bosses are busy attending consultation events at affected libraries. They were so impressed with the Axminster turnout in May that they offered to visit again for a town council meeting. Author and illustrator Jason Chapman helped set up Support for Axminster Library. He said: “The more we have turning up on the day, the bigger difference it will make. “It is about showing how passionate Axminster is in retaining the library as it is and not going down the volunteer route.” Library supporters are cautiously optimistic that the massive consultation turnout and differently interpreted statistics will swing the game their way. As previously reported, the group has 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. They also say the consultation statistics failed to consider a cut in opening hours, and have produced other statistics presenting Axminster Library in a better light than DCC’s consultation pack did. When asked what he hopes to achieve on Monday June 9th, Mr Chapman said: “In an ideal world we want them [DCC officials] to say they made a mistake and the library can stay as it is.” A definite decision will be made by DCC in September. The town council meeting will be held in the guildhall, starting at 7.15pm. DCC head of libraries Ciara Eastell and county councillor Roger Croad, who is the DCC Cabinet member responsible for the library service, are expected to attend. Those unable to attend find out more at the Support for Axminster Library Facebook page or the Twitter account at Support 4 Ax Library.


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