More than 600 users of Launceston Library have signed up to the Liberal Democrat led petition to save the facility from closure in the five days since the campaign was launched. The service is under threat as part of Cornwall Council's emergency budget.
The Conservative led administration at County Hall is seeking to save more then £1 million from the library and one stop shops budget over the next two years. Lib Dem councillors have repeatedly asked for details of how the savings will be achieved but have been told that no plans are yet worked out. The only scheme on the table is one devised by the Council to close up to 21 branches in Cornwall - retaining just nine.
This is a fantastic response to our campaign to save a vital local service. It shows just how valuable our community thinks that our local library is. Launceston library is a great local service with fantastic staff. They promote reading and learning and are well used by the local community here in Launceston, in surrounding villages and into Devon. Without this library, users will face a journey of at least 20 miles to the nearest branch.
During the two days I have so far spent collecting petition signatures outside the library, I have been impressed by the range of people who use it. There are school groups from the nearby Windmill Hill School who come to learn about reading and libraries as well as groups such as the mother and toddler group which meets on a Monday.
Launceston library is also the base for volunteers who deliver books to hundreds of housebound readers. It has a wide range of large print books and is often the only access to the internet for many local residents.
I would also like to thank the many local business and shops that have been collecting signatures for this campaign. They have told me that the library draws people into our town and if it closes then they will lose trade.
Next Tuesday, I will be proposing an amendment to the Conservative's cuts budget to save Launceston library and all the libraries across Cornwall which are threatened with closure. All are vital to their local communities and all should be saved.
The Conservative plan is incredibly short-sighted. They talk vaguely about community partnership and more use of volunteers but they don't even have the beginnings of a thought through plan as yet.