DELIGHTED Aldwick and Rose Green residents have received the good news that Willowhale library is safe from closure.
West Sussex County Council recently announced that all 36 public libraries will remain open despite neighbouring county East Sussex’s proposed plans meaning they will lose over a quarter of theirs.
At the meeting, Cllr Michael Jones said: “I don’t think it’s unfair to say that those of us on the opposition benches don’t like the controlling group being given any ideas when it comes to cutting services.”
He also added: “Something as precious and as valued in all our communities across West Sussex as our libraries deserve the staunch support and protection of all the members of this council.”
A county council spokesman said: “Our libraries are really well used by people of all ages and are key parts of our communities.
“Last year, 50,177 visits were made to Willowhale Library – that’s about 1,000 visits a week. Library users borrowed 80,084 items.
“We had 1,284 library users who visited for events for adults including knit and natter, board games groups and reading groups at Willowhale Library and we welcomed 1,878 younger library users for rhyme times.
“Our volunteers lent 1,187 hours of support, helping with the children’s summer reading challenge and taking books out to local residents unable to visit the library themselves.”
Willowhale also offers many activities and clubs including; knit and natter, Scrabble and board games, relax with colouring, book break and rhyme times.
Friends, Joy Hawley, Shelia Lynch and Davina Herrington visit the library at least once a week for Scrabble and have been visiting the library for over 20 years.
Joy said: “We come here once a week to play Scrabble, sometimes there are up to eight of us.
“If they had decided to close this library, I would be devastated, especially as someone who lives on their own. It’s a lifeline to us all.
“Most of us are widows and it gives us the chance to get out of the house and see people.
“I have started to get more books out now since I played Scrabble here.”
Shelia added: “I must admit I have a Kindle now so I don’t use the books as much but the staff here are excellent especially if I need any help with anything like the internet or reference material.”
Cllr Bill Acraman described the original motion put in by Cllr Jones as scaremongering.
He said: “He has got no evidence at all that there are any plans to significantly alter the service that we provide and what East Sussex do is for East Sussex to do and is nothing to do with us.”
Cllr Jacqui Russell said: “This council is currently working on what I truly believe are exciting plans – community library hubs. Making them the centre of the communities that we serve.
“This council is not planning to reduce opening hours or access to our library services but this council is planning to continue to enhance our libraries.”
The Bognor library has recently extended its services to include IT drop-in sessions for adults, to help with basic IT support and a National Careers Service session.