Wed, 14 Dec 2016
THATCHAM residents have said that they want the town library to remain open; but the majority would not be willing to volunteer to keep it going.
That was among the findings of a Thatcham Town Council survey asking residents for their views on the future of the town library.
The town council conducted the survey after the future of the library was cast in doubt, following West Berkshire Council’s proposal to close all libraries apart from Newbury.
The results were discussed at Monday’s meeting where it was revealed that 436 of the 481 respondents (90 per cent) said that they wanted the library to remain open.
This was against 23 who said no (4.7 per cent) and 22 who said maybe (4.5 per cent).
The results were not as clear cut when residents were asked whether they would be willing to pay more council tax to retain the library, however.
Of the 463 responses, 161 (39 per cent) said yes, with 123 (26.5 per cent) saying no and 159 (34.3 per cent) saying maybe.
West Berkshire Council is currently consulting on three options for the future of libraries in the district; all of which rely on volunteers stepping in to fill the funding breach.
However, when surveyed residents were asked whether they would be interested in volunteering at Thatcham Library, 260 of 468 people (55.5 per cent) said no. Fifty-eight (12.3 per cent) said yes, with 150 (32 per cent) answering maybe.
“They don’t want to do the work,” said Sheila Ellison (Con, Thatcham North) at Monday night’s meeting.
Rob Denton-Powell (Con, Thatcham South and Crookham) said while it was fantastic that the survey had been carried out, it did not provide enough detail.
“I find very open questions very misleading,” he said. “I think if we had put if the town council were to provide a Ferrari we would get an equally high response.
“Everybody understands that we want a library but it’s cost based. Questions like this don’t address financial implications.”
Town council leader Jason Collis (Con, Thatcham North) took a more optimistic approach, saying that although a low number of residents had said they would volunteer, the low percentage actually represented a high number of people.
“Is this survey anonymous and do we have contact details for them?” he asked humorously.