Bishop hits out over East Sussex library closures

A Sussex Bishop has expressed his disappointment that more than a quarter of libraries in East Sussex are to close.

Concern: Bishop Mark Sowerby
Concern: Bishop Mark Sowerby

The Rt Rev Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham, who chairs the Diocese of Chichester Board of Education, warned that young people would be particularly affected.

“I naturally regret any diminution of the library service, particularly where it restricts the access of young people to resources,” said the Bishop on Tuesday.

He added: “Some young people are short of resources as well as time to travel greater distances on public transport.

“Anything that combines with the constraints on school budgets to disadvantage the education of our young people is a matter of serious concern.”

Seven of the 24 libraries in East Sussex are to close, saving £653,000, following a final decision taken by East Sussex County Council last week.

They are at Ringmer, Mayfield, Polegate, Pevensey Bay, Willingdon, Langney and Ore which are to to close in early May.

The Conservative-led county council, which held a 12-week consultation on its draft Libraries Strategic Commissioning strategy late last year, is also set to scrap the mobile library service. The decision was made by the authority’s Cabinet on Tuesday last week (March 6).

The Bishop said that he was aware that there had been a consultation and that funds were limited but said that he was genuinely concerned about the well-being of young people and the resources available to them.

He said: “Of course politicians have to make difficult decisions all of the time with regards to expenditure but we should all be concerned that there remain adequate resources of all kinds for teaching and nurture across the county.”

Community groups will have the chance to put forward viable proposals to take over the running of any of the libraries or the mobile library service.