It is now several weeks since the bombshell announcement by Kent County Council that seagulls have forced the closure of Folkestone’s Grade II listed central Library on Grace Hill.
Local residents, businesses and community groups have reacted by arranging protest marches, Shakespeare readings and other events to register their anger and concern.
An online petition to ‘fix’ and reopen the Library has the highest support of any on the Kent County Council system, with matching street petitions signed by almost 1000 signatures in days.
Shops locally are displaying ‘Save Our Library’ posters and these are visible all over the Town.
The issue of the library has now also become a local election issue: three county councillors are among those standing in the district elections and all have now responded to some extent.
Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins has raised the issue of the threatened closure in parliament, giving assurances that every possible option for repairing the building will be considered and Cllr Jackie Meade has given her support to the call for KCC to provide clarity.
No response from Councillor Hill
Campaigners are increasingly angry that as yet there has been no response from the Cabinet lead for Community Services, Cllr Mike Hill, or the head of the Library Service, a month after more than thirty civic and community groups wrote asking for information.
Spokesperson Eric Segal said:
“Grace Hill has brought local people, unions, shopkeepers and the whole community together; it’s the sheer lack of courtesy and accountability which has made people so upset – we all value our community library and we expect better from our elected representatives.”
Campaign supporter Jon O’Connor, who works with local community groups added:
“I’ve worked with local authorities, including Kent, for 40 years. I am personally really shocked at the failure to discuss this properly with local people.
All we’ve asked for is honesty: we want a meeting to discuss the building condition report, proper costings and an appraisal of options for this building to be given back to our community in good condition. We’re not giving up until we have some proper answers.”
Crowdfunder off to a good start
A crowdfunding page to support the Save Our Library Campaign reached £500 within three days and is expected to hit £1000 by next week.