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Suffolk CC must come clean on library categories

A report in today’s East Anglian Daily Times demonstrates the confusion that is resulting from Suffolk County Council’s failure to make a public statement about changes in the basis of its consultation on the future of libraries.

The morning paper reports on events at Debenham, where a 28 hour read-in was held and a protest in defence of Stowmarket library.

In the consultation documents libraries are in two groups. The first is county libraries, which everyone belived were safe. Stowmarket is one of those.

The second group is community libraries, smaller ones including Debenham, which would only remain open if the community came forward with plans to take them over.

Nearly a month ago the council told campainers for libraries that the categorisation had not worked and was being abandoned. Instead they talked about three core libraries, Ipswich County, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft.

Since then there has been silence from Endeavour House. They have made no formal announcement of the change but have not denied what they said at the meeting with campaigners, nor clarified it. They refused to make any changes in the consultation.

This leaves people in places like Stowmarket in a surreal limbo.

Town councillor Duncan MacPherson, who helped organise the demonstration, told theEADT:

It went very well and there was a lot of people of all ages, including a good number of children.

The crucial thing is that we don’t want the library classification to change. At the moment we hope it will stay open – but we don’t know what will happen to staff and services.

It is totally unfair to leave communities in doubt. It makes it look as if the county council itself does not know what it is doing. The situation needs to be clarified urgently.

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