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Campaigners fight to re-open library

Charity aiming to galvanise support for Wash Common facility

A CHARITY formed by local residents is hoping to raise £18,000 to reopen their community library which was closed by West Berkshire Council earlier this year.

Wash Common Library was the only one in the area to be completely shut down as part of the council’s cost-cutting drive in March.

Now The Friends of Wash Common Library is hoping to galvanise public support to re-open the service and run it as an independent community library.

The group is now aiming to launch a leaflet campaign to gauge the level of support among residents.

Julia Calvert, a library user of many years who has led the campaign since its closure, said: “We were all very sad to see the library closed in March.

“Many people of all ages used the library regularly to borrow books, socialise and spend valuable time with their neighbours and friends.

“Many people find it difficult, and costly, to get into Newbury to use the library there.

“There has been real sadness and frustration that this excellent facility has been taken away from the local people, and many of them have told us that they want it back, as soon as possible.

“We have been delighted with the support we’ve had so far.

“Over £6,000 towards the £18,000 re-opening costs needed has been pledged by generous donors.

“Now we need to test the overall level of support that there is for what we are trying to do.”

West Berkshire Council opted to close the library in March as part of a range of cost-cutting measures to save around £580,000 a year within the library service.

The move meant a major restructuring of library services across the district, including a number of redundancies, however, Wash Common Library was the only library to completely close.

Since that time, local residents have attended a series of public meetings and fundraising events in large numbers to discuss the best way to resurrect the service.

“We think we will get a great response, but it will be good to see what local people tell us,” said Mrs Calvert.

“If we can show that the community is committed and we can raise enough money, including the £7,000 needed every year to run the library, this will convince West Berkshire Council to support us.

“It would be wonderful if this were to be the catalyst to getting the library re-opened next year.”

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