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Closure-threatened library saved by community
AN EAST Dorset library that faced closure after council cuts has been brought back from the brink by the community.
Colehill Library was one of eight threatened in the county after Dorset County Council pulled their funding as part of a bid to save £725,000.
However, local residents were so upset by the plans that they banded together to ensure the library was able to keep its doors open. The library was officially opened as a community-run facility on Saturday morning, with actor and Colehill resident Michael Medwin cutting the ribbon.
Chairman of the Colehill Parish Council David Mitchell said: “This has been a long-held dream, and it has taken some time to see it come true.
"A lot of work has gone into this, but lo and behold on January 8 we became a community library. A limited company, which is in effect a management team, looks after the running, and we have a lot of volunteers who will make sure it is able to open.”
An army of 90 volunteers have stepped forward to man the library, including around 30 who will help with maintaining the building.
“We are responsible for the whole thing now,” said Mr Mitchell.
“This is something that Colehill residents have overwhelmingly supported. We put out a questionnaire to see what people thought about it all, and something like 85 per cent were in favour of this project.”
County, district and parish councillor Janet Dover said: “People are really happy about this.
“We have finally achieved keeping the library open.
“The county council removed the funding but the community has stepped forward to ensure it didn’t have to close. We are absolutely thrilled – it is fantastic news for everyone.”
MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole MP Annette Brooke also attended the official opening.
She said: “Without the support of the community and these wonderful volunteers, this could never have happened.
“It’s wonderful news.”
In early 2012, the parish council announced it was raising its precept to provide financial support for the initiative.
The county council is also giving each community-run library around £5,500 a year towards staffing, books and IT services.