Campaigners deliver library petition to County Hall
PUBLISHED: 09:26 13 April 2015 | UPDATED: 09:26 13 April 2015
The petition was started after KCC opened a consultation into handing over libraries to a trust
The message to Kent County Council was clear when campaigners delivered 3,772 signatures as part of their ‘save our public libraries’ petition.
Over 3,000 of the signatures were collected face-to-face on paper, between March 3 and April 8, providing a snapshot of the strength of feeling in Margate, Sandwich, Herne Bay, Whitstable, Canterbury and Faversham.
In addition, 720 people across Kent signed the e-petition hosted on KCC’s website.
The petition was organised to fight plans by KCC to hand over control of public libraries to a trust. Campaigners argue that under trust ownership, smaller libraries may be at risk of closure.
Whitstable resident, Jane Darling, who played a pivotal role in organising the petition said: “There were not that many signature gathering occasions so this impressive total is a sign of how keen people were to show their support for our public libraries. It provides a valuable snapshot of opinion in Kent. The online signatures are a further sample.
“The total has been achieved despite KCC’s libraries consultation getting a bit lost in the build up to the general election, Kent’s media giving little scrutiny to the proposal to hand the library service to a trust, and KCC’s own publicity for the consultation being disappointingly low key. The consultation roadshows were very poorly advertised. In fact, many people I spoke to didn’t even know there is a proposal to change the way our libraries are run.”
After delivering the petition to County Hall, Whitstable resident Richard Stainton said: “When discussing the petition, local people have expressed pride in our library service. Many residents believe strongly that they should remain a public service, democratically accountable. Nobody described the service as broken so there is no need for a fix - certainly not an experimental step into the unknown like handing control to a trust.
“The petition is actually an expression of confidence in KCC with regard to libraries and a call to the council to carry on running our cost effective and efficient libraries as a public service. My hope, shared by many Kent residents from across the political spectrum, is that the petition will encourage and inform the full debate by councillors that Paul Carter says is still to take place and then lead to our public libraries being saved for future generations.”