‘Save Alford Library’ campaigners stage protest

Campaigners hoping to save Alford Library staged a protest last week.

Campaigners hoping to save Alford Library staged a protest last week.

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Around 60 campaigners turned out to protest the proposed closure of Alford library on Thursday.

The protest, organised by Alford Town Council, was held in opposition to Lincolnshire County Council’s cost cutting measures, which will see all but 15 of the authority’s static libraries closed.

The Mayor of Alford Coun Jenny Cooper says she felt the protest went ‘very well’ and has helped reinforce the town’s opposition to closures.

“It sends the message to the county council that libraries are vitally important to the people of Alford and they don’t want them to be taken away,” she said. “We responded to the consultation, we are doing the petition and this is another way to say we want our views listened to.”

Town councillors believe they have a particular case for retaining the town’s library, as they claim it was funded by the people of Alford when the town was run by the urban district council.

“The people of Alford raised around £54,000 to have that built as a library and it is felt in the town that if the county council closes them that’s theft of that money,” Coun Cooper added.

Stephen Palmer, the county councillor for Alford and Sutton on Sea, also attended Thursday’s event, having voiced strong opposition to the cuts.

As a former library worker, he fears the county council’s proposals to support communities set up their own volunteer-run facilities will be fraught with difficulties.

“There’s a huge difference between volunteering a few hours to extend a library’s opening times and taking over the service completely,” he said. “The volunteers are taking a stance, saying they are not interested in running their own library, they are supporting the professional staff and saying they don’t want to lose the service.”

Coun Palmer has pointed out that the costs involved in running the library would not be met by the county council’s financial support.

“They are expecting volunteers to take over the running of it and the funding,” he said.

Unlike many libraries, Coun Palmer and Coun Cooper say that Alford’s library usage is on the increase, and should therefore be retained.

Coun Palmer also collected 80 signatures for the Save Lincolnshire Libraries petition, which currently has more than 23,000 names.

“We’re not having to twist anyone’s arm to sign the petition, they are really keen to add their names - the strength of feeling out there is massive and I think the county council has under estimated that.”