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Berinsfield villagers form action group to save their library
VILLAGERS have vowed to come up with a plan to save their library after expressing dismay over its proposed closure.
More than 50 people turned out to a meeting at Berinsfield Community Primary School on Saturday to quiz county councillors over plans to shut Berinsfield Library.
The Conservative-led Oxfordshire County Council wants to shut 20 out of the county’s 43 libraries in a bid to save £2m.
But the residents told councillors Judith Heathcoat and Lorraine Lindsay-Gale the plan would have a big impact on their village and asked to see detailed financial accounts so they could start working out a way to take it over.
A handful of residents volunteered to form a working group to look into where and how it could be run.
Retired youth worker Ken Chrisp, of Colne Drive, suggested relocating the Green Furlong library to the Berinsfield Adult Learning centre in Wimblestraw Road.
He said: “A small extension could be put on the side of the education centre, it’s in the middle of the village and there is a car park. If it was put on that site the school would also have access during the day. We would be utilising a resource and sustaining a library for the future.”
Steve Abbott-Harding, 59, of Colwell Road, said: “Closing the libraries is a false economy. It will affect this village and surrounding villages. What about all the old folk who use it who can’t get to Wallingford and Oxford easily?”
However, Ken Horn, chairman of Berinsfield Parish Council, did not hold out much hope for the library’s future. He said: “I am very upset by the plans. It’s sad and worrying, but I don’t think there is hope. It’s used by about 40 per cent of Berinsfield.
“But they have made their minds up. The building will probably lay dormant and will be vandalised.”
Community groups will be able to bid for part of a £200,000 fund to keep their area’s library open.
Mrs Heathcoat, the council’s cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: “The proposals are only that at this time, that’s important to remember and that’s why we are having a consultation period.
“We are not targeting libraries.
“We are trying to focus our cuts so they have the least impact.”
She said residents would continue to be able to go online and order books from the catalogue and have them delivered to the village via the mobile library. She said: “There will be an impact, but libraries that will stay open are the ones that take 82 per cent of the visits.”
Mrs Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, who represents Berinsfield, vowed to work with the residents to come up with a sustainable plan for a library.