More than 10,000 people around the county have thrown their weight behind a campaign to protect their library services.
The Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries (FOGL) launched a petition in December 2010 to protest against proposals by Gloucestershire County Council to cut the library service budget by 43%. If the changes go ahead, this would see service reductions at many libraries across Gloucestershire, and the potential closures of eleven sites if no-one from the community steps forward to run them, as well as the loss of the mobile library service.
This follows weeks of tireless campaigning, and garnering celebrity support from the likes of novelist Joanna Trollope, Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne, locally-based authors John Dougherty, Alice Jolly, Alison Weir and Anna Bowles, and Chloë of the Midnight Storytellers.
One of the last signatures to be added to the petition before counting began was that of Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood, who met FOGL members at Hesters Way Library to offer his support to the campaign.
The petition will be handed to the County Council Scrutiny Team at Shire Hall on Wednesday 5th January 2011 at 3pm.
As the volume of signatures numbers more than 5,000, the matter will now have to be debated by the County Council before final budget decisions are made.
FOGL Chair Johanna Anderson is thrilled with the success of the petition, which has seen many members of the group braving freezing temperatures, snow and ice to gather signatures. She said;
“The support we’ve received has been tremendous. We believe that cutting the already small budget for the library service will not have any meaningful impact on budgets for other services. We also believe that wherever you live, services will be affected by cuts or closures elsewhere in Gloucestershire.
We would like to thank everyone who has helped with the campaign and everyone who has taken the time to sign the petition and get this issue into the arena for public debate.”
FOGL are continuing to collect signatures, and the online version of the petition is available to sign until the 17th February.