• Devon County Council considers new option for libraries

    30th September 2014 | News | Claire
  • Plans to close more than half of Devon’s libraries have been shelved by the county council.The local authority had proposed cutting funding to 28 smaller libraries around the county to save £1.5m.

    After a consultation, it said it was considering a new approach involving a pilot of 10 communities working with professionals to run the service.

    The buildings and staff in those areas would become part of new trusts, separate from the council.

    Details of which communities will be part of the pilot scheme will be revealed on Wednesday.

    Previously a briefing paper from Devon County Council proposed keeping 22 major libraries, to be known as Devon Centres. It also said in April that communities would be asked to take over the running of services, otherwise they would end.

    ‘Right track’
    Campaigners have given a cautious welcome to the new plans.

    Paula Ferris, the chairperson of the Friends of Braunton Library, said: “I am not sure it’s the right answer but it’s certainly a bold one.

    “Libraries are very highly valued and should be properly funded. I’m supportive they appear to have listened.”

    Roger Croad, the Conservative county councillor responsible for Devon’s libraries, said: “I think we’re on the right track.

    “Nearly half our libraries have friends’ groups who raise funds and we want to continue that involvement. We’re looking to save in excess of £400,00 in business rates, we’re making the larger libraries as efficient as possible.”

    The scheme has already been used in Sussex where an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) was set up in 2012 to run the libraries.

    Phtograph:  Outside Ottery’s library, talking to a resident.