Thursday, May 29, 2014
Packed meeting at Braunton Parish Hall as villagers quiz county councillors about proposed cuts and the future of services.
A senior county councillor has told a packed public meeting in Braunton he will consider changing the status of the under-threat village library.
The meeting at the Parish Hall last night (Wednesday) was arranged by Braunton Parish Council to give people an opportunity to question the county council about cuts including social care, youth services and libraries.
Save Braunton Library campaigners have been calling for its status in the ongoing libraries consultation to be upgraded from small to ‘medium to large’ to reflect how well it is used.
At the meeting DCC cabinet member Cllr Roger Croad agreed he would consider the request and said he was not in the business of closing libraries.
Tim Kevan, who spoke on behalf of the library campaign, said the promise was the most they could have hoped for: “It was a constructive meeting and it was brilliant that he came down because he was listening to us,” he said.
“It was a very interesting evening and I think positive. There were contributions from all kinds of people and they were able to see the strength and depth of feeling in the community.”
The 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.
Mr Croad told the North Devon Gazette today (Thursday) it was a promising meeting with some good points raised. Regarding the library he said: “I said I would look at it and I most certainly will.
“But at the end of the day it does not matter whether a library is in the Devon centre or community led model, we still have to save £1.5m from the library service during the next two to three years.”
He said there were two reasons Braunton had not been placed in the ‘Devon centre’ model – the proximity of Barnstaple and also the smaller size of Braunton’s building meant it would be harder to find the space to create a ‘community hub’ of different services.
But he said he was not prepared to cut opening hours or see libraries close: “I expect to have 50 different solutions to 50 county libraries,” he added.
“We have come up with this proposal but it can be changed. It really depends on the views I get from the people of Devon. We have only had 63 online replies to our proposals from Braunton and I had expected that to be a whole lot higher.”
People can comment on the library consultation via www.toughchoices.co.uk/environment-and-community-services or pick up a form at their local library.