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Residents of Blythe Bridge fear for future of Library as volunteers expected to run it

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: August 01, 2014

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VILLAGERS have packed a public meeting to voice fears for the future of their library.

They are angry that Staffordshire County Council wants to pull out of running Blythe Bridge Library over the next three years and replace the staff with volunteers.

They aired their views at a public meeting over the future of the library this week.

But they have hit out after just 50 residents were allowed to attend the meeting because of a shortage of space.

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Judith Bentley, of Blythe Bridge, who attended the meeting, said: “We are disappointed there was room for only 50 people because a lot more villagers are concerned about this.

“It is morally wrong to tell the volunteers they will to have raise their own funds to run the library.

“It is disgusting and, ultimately, if they can’t raise the money then the library closes anyway.

“We are fighting a losing battle.

“There have always been volunteers in the area, like with the cubs or scouts, but they have been supplementary.

“Libraries are a public service and should be a given. Running the library and managing the building is too much.

“Where does it stop? We will be given helmets, jackets and hoses soon.”

Parish councillor Joe Cornwall said: “This is such a well-used resource.

“Many elderly people, including myself, enjoy going in for a book and using the other services.

“I believe people will come forward to save it.

“But we are all paying rates for services such as this, yet we are being deprived of them.

“People will have to volunteer because you can’t win against the council.

“It would be a real shame if we lost the library.”

Council leaders want volunteers to run 24 of their 43 libraries to save cash after seeing the number of visitors fall.

Residents are being consulted about the plan with a final decision expected to be made next year.

County councillor Mike Lawrence, cabinet member for communities, pictured left, told the residents: “This is not a library closure programme.

“We understand people love their libraries – they are community assets and community hubs.

“They are not just about lending books and reading. There are lots of activities which take place, all connected with what the community wants to do.”

But he added: “Now it is all about the internet and there has been less footfall coming into our libraries.

“We are trying to ensure we have a comprehensive and efficient library service and prepare it for the future.

“We want to make it a safe, relevant asset in five, 10 or even 20 years’ time.”

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