Braunton Library campaigners launch plan of attack

Ben Hewitt addresses the Save Braunton Library meeting at the Black Horse on Wednesday. Ben Hewitt addresses the Save Braunton Library meeting at the Black Horse on Wednesday.

Monday, May 26, 2014
2:37 PM

Popular library should not be in the ‘under used’ section of Devon County Council’s consultation, say villagers.

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CAMPAIGNERS have launched the Save Braunton Library fight with a busy public meeting and called for the library to be reclassified.

Around 50 people including councillors, North Devon MP Nick Harvey and parliamentary Labour candidate Mark Cann attended the meeting on Wednesday at the Black Horse pub in Church Street.

Community campaigners now say the library is in the ‘wrong category’ of Devon County Council’s library service consultation and plan to make a formal submission calling for it to be changed.

The formal submission will be presented to DCC cabinet member Councillor Roger Croad on Wednesday at a public meeting at the Parish Hall called by Braunton Parish Council to discuss service cuts from 7.30pm.

“Braunton should go from a ‘smaller and less-well used’ library to a ‘medium to large’, reflecting its true status and enabling us to engage in a full consultation about its future,” said Ben Hewitt, chairman of Save Braunton Library.

“Thank you to everyone who came to the community meeting on Wednesday and for sharing your brilliant ideas to save Braunton library.

“It was a great turnout with lots of energy. The meeting provided an opportunity for us to meet each other and discuss next steps.

“It was particularly encouraging to see widespread support for the campaign from different political parties. People were united to save the library.”

Devon County Council is seeking to cut £1.5million from its libraries budget as part of a restructuring of the service and is running a public consultation until July 17.

But Braunton campaigners say their library should not be in the ‘under used’ section and are asking for an exception, as in the case of Holsworthy, and for it to be placed in the medium to large category.

The council is proposing larger town libraries to be redeveloped into ‘Devon Centres’ offering a range of services, but smaller communities could be forced to rely on local groups or volunteers to run their libraries and it is feared some could close.

“Local people want to take part in a fair and open consultation about the future of Braunton,” added Mr Hewitt.

“They think we are being treated unfairly because of Braunton’s technical village status. This ignores the fact we have more active users than other “medium to large” libraries.”

Local author Tim Kevan said Braunton was more than willing to engage in meaningful discussions with the county on how a Devon Centre model could be taken forward.

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