Residents turn out in full to support Appledore Library as first Devon County Council consultations on £1.5million cuts begin.

The consultations at Appledore Library today (Friday).The consultations at Appledore Library today (Friday).

APPLEDORE residents turned out in force this morning (Friday) to support their local library and protect the ‘heart of their community’.

Today’s open event was the first of many taking place across North Devon’s libraries as the county council navigates how it will cut £1.5million from its libraries budget.

Within the first 10 minutes of the consultation opening, members of the Friends of Appledore Library (FOAL) said around 40 people had been through the door.

Walter Fowler, who runs Walt’s Emporium in Appledore, has raised around £24,500 for the library over the last six years.

The consultations at Appledore Library today (Friday).The consultations at Appledore Library today (Friday).

He was a key factor in the refurbishment and reopening of the Appledore Library in 2012 and said he would remain committed to keeping the facility open.

“I think the library is important for a number of reasons,” said Mr Fowler.

“Firstly, it’s important for the elderly to have this on their doorstep. Secondly, what is better than a book for children?

“It also has the internet so people who cannot afford a computer or laptop can come down to the library and use the facilities here.”

Northam residents Michael and Ingka Charters are members of FOAL as well as a writers’ group and turned out to support the Library.

“This is the heart of the community, like the kitchen is the heart of a home,” said Mrs Charters.

“I am an artist as well as a writer and I think we could use this facility for things liker galleries, for example upstairs there is a lovely space for exhibitions.”

Appledore resident Penny Bustin said she thought it was ‘outrageous’ that the county council ‘cannot support its library services’.

“Libraries are absolutely fundamental to life and learning,” she said.

“Every high street is dominated by charity shops run by volunteers and now volunteers are going to be running libraries.

“It undermines the librarian – we need that professionalism.”

Councillor Andrew Eastman, the county and district councillor for Appledore, reiterated that no library would close under the consultation.

He said: “Appledore library is fortunate to already have the Friends of Appledore Library group who are very proactive in keeping this wonderful facility.

“Not only is it thriving but it is increasingly improving all the time.”

FOAL member and local author Nick Arnold greeted visitors at the door and said he was very pleased with the turnout.

“In 2006 the community of Appledore saved its library,” said Mr Arnold.

“In 2012 we carried out the most ambitious internal rebuild of a public library by volunteers in the whole of Great Britain.

“This year we propose to keep out library open once again.”