Outrage as Weston’s heritage is ‘eaten away’

CONCERNED library users say Weston’s heritage is being ‘eaten away’ as North Somerset Council agrees to sell off the town’s historic library building.

From bookworms to families, computer lovers and history buffs, the purpose-built facility has been popular with young and old since 1901.

But at Tuesday’s meeting of the full council members agreed it was best to sell off the aging site and relocate the service to the town hall – a move protestors condemn.

Campaigners from the newly-formed group Save Weston Library say they are outraged at the decision, particularly as there has been no public consultation or discussion by councillors, other than within budget proposals.

The council plans to move the service into the Town Hall - part of a dramatic �47.3 million cost-cutting drive as a result of the Government’s comprehensive spending review.

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It will then spend �9.7 million on revamping the Town Hall.

Campaigner John Crockford-Hawley said: “Successive councils have failed to put money aside for regular works and now the easiest option for councillors seems to be closure and movement of books into the Town Hall.

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“This is not because of any need for transfer but is to offset the council’s costly move to a second town hall in Clevedon, which has produced surplus space in Weston Town Hall.

“It’s all rather short-sighted and has the hallmark of an accountant written all over it without readers’ views having been taken into consideration.”

Campaigners from Save Weston Library, which has a growing following, gathered outside the Boulevard facility on Monday with posters and leaflets.

Protestor, Martha Perriam, said: “Weston’s heritage is being eaten away.

“It is an historic, purpose-built library and is much cherished by all who use it.”

It was designed in 1901 by Weston’s most famous architect, Hans Price, and has an extensive local archive.

The Save Weston Library group will be giving out leaflets outside the facility over the next few weeks and will hold a public meeting at the Blakehay in Wadham Street at 11am on March 19.

Executive member Felicity Baker said: “The current building is over 100 years old and can no longer cope with the demands of a 21st century library service. To refurbish the building would cost more than �1million.

“The new library will retain and enhance the full range of stock and materials held in the present location and will include an improved local studies area and better IT facilities.”

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