Local MP Huw Merriman called the meeting to establish the views of local residents when he heard that East Sussex County Council had launched a consultation on the Libraries service which may see the closure of Pevensey Bay library.
He was joined by County, District and parish councillors who have all joined forces to make sure that residents are aware that their library might close and to encourage them to respond to the consultation.
The meeting, held at the Priory Court Hotel in Pevensey, heard from a wide range of library users – including families with young children; parents of teenagers who need access to library services; local residents who use the library for research; those who need to access internet-based services; library volunteers who deliver books to housebound residents and residents who simply enjoy using the library to borrow books and DVDs for leisure.
Huw said, “When I set up this meeting with the help of locally-elected representatives and the Friends of Pevensey Bay Library, I didn’t know what the level of local interest would be.
“I was heartened to see so many people turn out to find out more about County’s proposals and to tell their local representatives just how important the library is to them and their local community.
“Many of those attending have volunteered to spread the word to their neighbours and friends and to help to distribute further information to all the local households.
“I will be setting up a page on my website to help people find out about how to respond to the County Council’s consultation, it is essential that if people want to keep their library that they make their voices heard.”
Mr Merriman was joined by councillor Tom Liddiard, County Councillor for Pevensey and Westham who told residents that he was totally opposed to the library closure.
He said, “I would like to thank everybody who attended the meeting and would implore all local residents to ensure our community’s voice is heard. Within East Sussex County Council we are facing some incredibly difficult decisions.
“We will be delivering a leaflet through every door in our villages to ensure that everybody has their say. We cannot stress enough the importance of local people making their representations towards the consultation.
“Together, as a community, we will do all we can to ensure that decision makers know what a vital community asset our library is.”
Wealden District Councillors, Lin Clark and Dianne Dear were also at the meeting to offer their help and support to the local residents. Pevensey Parish Council Chairman, Daniel Brookbank, invited residents to attend the parish council meeting in St Wilfrid’s Hall in Pevensey next Tuesday evening (October 3) when this issue will be discussed.
Local resident and Chair of the Friends of Pevensey Bay Library, Margaret Martin, spoke passionately about the need for a local library for Pevensey and outlined community-based options should the decision be made by the County Council to withdraw funding.
Mrs Martin said, “I’d like to thank those businesses in Pevensey Bay that displayed the poster about the meeting so quickly and helped get the word round. It’s this kind of community spirit that will help keep a library here in the Bay.
“It was moving to hear from the resident that stood up and told the meeting how their autistic son has just got to the point where he can now go to the library due to the help of supportive staff and the calm environment.
“Others are concerned that the local Home Library Service volunteers will not want to continue because travel times to other libraries are quite unrealistic. We have to do our best to keep this library open. It is very encouraging that all our elected representatives are of the same view.”
A working group, made up of the MP, Councillors and Mrs Martin, is now seeking a meeting with the County Council team to explore options to keep the library open to the public.