Leiston stages powerful library protest march

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who turned out on Saturday for the march to Save Leiston Library.  Thanks to your enthusiasm and energy the campaign has received unprecedented media coverage on TV, radio and the local press.  Suffolk County Council can be left in no doubt about the strength of opposition in Leiston to their outrageous plans to ‘divest’ the library service.  These ill-conceived proposals threaten the future of libraries and the essential services they help to deliver across the whole of Suffolk.

James Hargrave, who spoke at the march, has posted some video footage of the event on his blog.  You can view it here.  The excellent coverage in the East Anglian Daily Times included a gallery of photos which you can see here.

As our campaign develops we will continue to oppose SCC’s divestment agenda for the library service. It remains our position that Suffolk’s library service should remain one which is delivered by the County Council with professional library staff at its heart, and which should remain completely accountable to the people of Suffolk.  The campaign has to be fought on a number of fronts.  We will:

  • challenge the legitimacy of what we believe to be a fundamentally flawed consultation process;
  • question the legality of the divestment proposals which could contravene Suffolk County Council’s statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all who wish to use it;
  • establish working links with other communities and explore ways in which, by working together, we can secure the long-term future of the library service, not just locally but across Suffolk.

Finally, I want to reiterate my intention to create a community-led group which can work towards our goal of ensuring that Leiston retains a viable library service.  I see this as a vital next step to ensuring that the campaign in Leiston is seen as a legitimate representative of the views of the local community.  Please contact the campaign if you want to be involved.

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Saturday 5th March 2011: March To Defend Leiston Library

Get your banners and placards out again, we’re going to hold a second demonstration against the County Council’s “divest or close” policy for Leiston library. This event is being run with the support of the many local book club groups who are regular users of the library. Let’s try to make this protest even bigger and louder than the last one.

We will meet in the access road leading to Leiston Community Primary School, off King George’s Avenue, from 10.30am. From there we will set off at 11.00am to march down Sizewell Road into Leiston Town Centre, turn right onto the High Street and continue on to the library in Old Post Office Square where we will hold a rally.

  • Speak out against plans to close Leiston library
  • Challenge the County Council’s cuts agenda
  • Fight for libraries, fight for public services

Can you help with distributing posters and leaflets?  You will find an A4 poster and a 2xA5 leaflet to download and print here.  Please help to publicise this important public protest by getting posters and leaflets out to as many people as you can.  There is a lot of support out there – we just need to mobilise it!

If you’re travelling into Leiston by car for the demonstration, please note there will be no parking available at the school. Please make use of other public car parks in Leiston.

Leiston Town Council is planning to hold a meeting with Roger McMaster from Suffolk Library Services on Tuesday 8th March so our march will be a great opportunity to demonstrate to them that the closure of Leiston library is not an option we are prepared to accept.

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Leiston speaks out: NO to library cuts and closures

Nearly 200 people protested outside Leiston Library on Saturday to demonstrate their opposition to Suffolk County Council’s plans to break up the library service.  Young and old alike were united in their passion for our local library service and their determination that  Leiston library will not close.

Protesters were addressed by Sandy Martin (Labour leader on Suffolk County Council), Steve Smedley (founder of the Save Leiston Library campaign and Labour District Council candidate for Leiston ward) and Ann Nunn (Leiston Town Council).

The fantastic show of support for the Save Leiston Library campaign sends a very strong message to the County Council that local people will not accept the loss of vital community services provided by their local library and that the council must reconsider their shameful proposals.

The Leiston library protest was just one of many similar demonstrations taking place across the country as part of a national day of action to Save Our Libraries.  Equally well-attended events took place across Suffolk, including in Stradbroke, Bungay and Rosehill in Ipswich.

The County Council’s plans for libraries not only threaten services but also put the jobs of professional librarians at risk.  It is these skilled and dedicated people who are the library service’s most valuable resource and we cannot afford to lose them.


What’s next?

Many people on Saturday expressed their wish to continue the protests to save Leiston library and so we are planning another day of action on Saturday 5th March.

This will be an even larger event, with local book clubs and reading groups playing a leading role.  The intention is to march though Leiston town centre to another demonstration outside the library in Old Post Office Square.  Details will be circulated as soon as they are finalised.

I hope that everyone will be able to support this event for what is certain to be another memorable show of opposition to library cuts and closures in Suffolk.

I know that many people at the protest on Saturday were keen to help out with all sorts of campaigning ideas, so I would be grateful if they could contact the campaign so we can begin to build a strong group of committed individuals to take the Save Leiston Library campaign on to the next stage.


We have now also opened an online e-petition on the Suffolk County Council website:

http://petitions.web-labs.co.uk/suffolkcc/public//Save-Leiston-Library

Please add your signature to the growing list of those opposed to the County Council’s plans for our library service and for Leiston library.

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The fightback starts now!

Library campaigners in Leiston will be joining similar groups across the country outside local libraries on Saturday 5th February,  Save Our Libraries Day, to protest against library cuts and closures.

We’ll be meeting in Old Post Office Square in front of Leiston library at 10.30 am.  Please make every effort to join us and make this a memorable demonstration of public support for our local library service.

Suffolk County Council think they can force through their agenda of “divestment”, cuts and job losses on local communities like Leiston.  Well, they’re wrong.  Together we will:

  • Defend Leiston’s essential library service
  • Fight the threat to libraries across Suffolk
  • Reject Suffolk County Council’s closure plans

Get making your banners and placards.  There’s also an A4 poster and a 2xA5 leaflet to download and print here.  There’s not much time so we need to get moving!

Support for the Save Leiston Library campaign in the local community is growing every day, so spread the word and let’s get as many people as we can supporting our local library on Saturday 5th  February!

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The fight for Leiston library starts here

The library service across Suffolk has been dealt a devastating blow that leaves the future of Leiston library and many others like it in doubt.  Suffolk County Council has recently announced its long-awaited consultation on the future of library services in our county.  The proposals go far beyond the worst that anyone could have imagined.

Along with 28 other local libraries in Suffolk, Leiston library is earmarked for “divestment”.  In plain language, this effectively means that unless unpaid volunteers can be found to continue to run the library, or other revenue can be generated to maintain the service, it will close.

This map shows the location of all of Suffolk’s public libraries, with Leiston highlighted in blue.  The 15 in green are those earmarked as “county libraries” in Suffolk County Council’s 2011 Libraries Consultation.  The remainder could be faced with closure:

We will have a full analysis of the libraries consultation document here shortly.

If we value our library as a community then we all need to act, and we need to act swiftly.  Find out what you can do to fight the imminent closure of Leiston library here.  Everybody’s input is vital.  Your views really do count.

Over the next few weeks we need to organise creative and engaging protests and actions to raise awareness of the plight of our important local library service.  Those events will be listed here, and will include participating in a National Day of Protest on Saturday 5th February.  If you can help please contact the campaign here.

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Save Leiston Library blog is launched!

Welcome to the launch of Save Leiston Library, a campaign blog with the specific aim of protecting our local library in Leiston, Suffolk from cuts being imposed on local services by Suffolk County Council.

We hope that Leiston library will not be at risk of a reduction in services or opening hours, loss of jobs or even closure, but if that proves not to be the case then the fightback will begin here.

Suffolk County Council’s consultation document on the future of library services across Suffolk will be announced on Tuesday 18th January. As soon as this document is released we will be ready to spring into action. So watch this space.

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