Reprieve over threatened Brandon library

Controversial proposals from Suffolk County Council to stop running its library service have been abandoned.

The council had planned to divest the service and hand over responsibility for running libraries to community groups, parish councils or other organisations.

The plans could have resulted in the closure of 29 community libraries if no groups took over the running of them – including a branch in Brandon.

However, due to the strength of feeling across the county, which resulted in a number of demonstrations, the county council has made a dramatic U-turn.

It emerged on Sunday night that the authority will retain ultimate responsibility for running libraries – although communities will have an opportunity to help run individual branches.

And while there is no guarantee that all branches will be retained, cabinet member with responsibility for libraries Judy Terry said she expected the overwhelming majority to stay open.

She said: “I really hope that all libraries will remain open, ultimately we would like to be able to see new libraries created for communities across the county.”

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The libraries are set to be run by a community interest company which will be fully owned by the county council – but will include representatives of communities across Suffolk as well as councillors and officials.

Mrs Terry said this would lead to a reduction in the amount of bureaucracy and should help to make savings needed by the county.

It was the reaction from market towns and communities across the county that persuaded members of the ruling Conservative group at the county council to abandon the divestment plans.

The threat to library services brought out protesters on to the streets of places which had never seen marches before – and sparked a significant online campaign against the proposals.

In Brandon, the Original Book Club, which meets at the library monthly, organised a petition which collected more than 900 signatures.