Library cuts: Protest continues to grow

A volunteer gathers signatures for the 'Save Knaresborough Library' petition.
A volunteer gathers signatures for the 'Save Knaresborough Library' petition.

The protest continues to grow against plans to make severe cuts in staffing at Knaresborough Library, with more than 1,500 people so far signing a petition and two further meetings planned for this month.

As the February 8 deadline for comments to North Yorkshire County Council’s (NYCC) approaches, campaigners are still gathering signatures for the petition, which requests that at least three paid members of staff be retained at the library.

Campaign co-ordinator Sonia Starbuck said: “In just three days, we collected around 500 signatures a day. We talked to everyone about the situation, so these are real supporters, not just mass online signatures.”

She added: “A deterioration of library services will severely affect the quality of life in the town, and just about everybody recognises this.”

Local businesses have been equally enthusiastic to sign up, said Sonia, adding: “The lack of an effective library means that Knaresborough becomes a less attractive destination. People will go elsewhere to shop and local traders will be adversely affected. Nearly every business in the town is backing us.”

NYCC proposes to cut the number of paid staff at Knaresborough Library from seven to one as it looks to restructure its libraries in a bid to save £3.6m on its library budget by 2020. An information session about the proposals was held last month, outlining how the proposed ‘hybrid’ model - with a combination of professional staff and volunteers - would work.

Now a further two meetings will give people the opportunity to find out more.

On Wednesday, January 26, an information session will take place from 3pm to 6pm at Knaresborough Pool.

The following evening, on Thursday, January 29, a public meeting about the library’s future will be held at the Frazer Theatre. The event, which starts at 7.30pm, will be hosted by Knaresborough County Coun Bill Hoult, while Jill Fellerman from the County’s Library Service will answer questions.

Coun Hoult said: “It’s an opportunity for members of the public to make comments and ask questions. The idea is that the county council should take these comments into account when they make their consideration on the library’s future.”

He also encouraged people to regsiter their views formally on the county council’s website before the consultation closes on February 8. Hard copies of the feedback form are also available from Knaresborough Library.

Sonia Starbuck added: “With less than a month to go before the end of the consultation period, it’s important that everyone acts now. Please come to the public meeting, fill in the NYCC online questionnaire, and sign our petition.”

The petition is available at Art in the Mill, Castlegate Books and at the Cross Keys pub. Forms can also be found at Coriander, the Old Chemist Shop, Stomp, the George and Dragon, the Royal Oak and the Wellington Inn.