Consultation on Eye and Stradbroke Libraries draws to an end

Petitions signed by more than 13,000 people were handed to Suffolk County Council yesterday over proposals that could close dozens of libraries across the county.

Campaigners presented the petitions to leaders at the council ahead of the conclusion of a four-month public consultation on the future of library services.

The authority is looking to cut funding to 29 of its 44 libraries and is calling on local councils and community groups to take on the running of the buildings.

The plans, which would hit libraries in Eye and Stradbroke, have already resulted in more than 2,500 consultation responses being sent to the county council. The public consultation will come to an end on Saturday.

Campaign groups came together at Endeavour House in Ipswich yesterday to present the petitions from across Suffolk.

James Hargrave, of the Save Stradbroke Library group, who attended the handover, added that they would also get to air their concerns at a county council meeting next month. More than 800 people signed petitions in Stradbroke.

'Stradbroke has submitted a proposal to Suffolk County Council with the parish council taking it over if the county council do not want it, but we expect them to give us money to do that. It is not clear how it will stay open - libraries need cash to keep open.'

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'A large proportion of the people in Stradbroke have responded of all ages and political views. Mark Bee [the new leader of Suffolk County Council] has said he is going to listen and we are keeping a close watch and if he is prepared to talk, people are prepared to meet him half way,' he said.

The consultation was launched in response to a reduction in central government funding, which means that Suffolk County Council is looking to save �125m over the next four years.

So far, the authority has received 15 expressions of interest from groups looking to run their library services.

Anna McCreadie, Suffolk County Council's director of adult and community services, said: 'This consultation is about genuinely involving Suffolk residents in shaping the future of their libraries services.

'We are interested in hearing views on all library services, including mobile libraries. I'd urge anyone who hasn't expressed their view to do so before the deadline.'

A detailed analysis of all responses will be carried out over the next two months and a plan of action will go to cabinet on July 19.

The full consultation information is available online at