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Campaigners aim to fight library cuts
MORE than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for longer opening hours at a town centre library, which will suffer due to county council budget cuts.
Sedgefield Library's opening hours will be cut from 39 per week to 20 in January, as Durham County Council strives to save £174m over the next four years.
The decision has angered residents, who are campaigning to increase this to 25 hours per week.
On Monday, Phil Wilson, LabourMP for Sedgefield, presented a petition with 1,250 names on it to Parliament.
Hehas also joined forces with residents and Councillor John Robinson, the Mayor of Sedgefield, to set up a campaign group called the Friends of Sedgefield Library.
The group will look for ways to raise £5,000 a year - the estimated cost of opening the library for an additional five hours per week.
Coun Robinson said: "We hope we can raise the money by holding coffee mornings and various other charity events in the library.
"If everyone who signed the petition came and bought a couple of drinks a year, we would hit our target."
Sedgefield is one of 39 town and community libraries that will see a reduction in opening hours next year.
The move, which is due to significant Government funding cuts, will save the county council £1.5m and follows a public consultation earlier this year. A second round of consultation to help determine the new opening times is under way and runs until September 28.
Resident Aileen Darnton, 33, who helped organise the petition, said the cuts would have a negative impact on Sedgefield.
"I have two young children and we visit the library at least two or three times a week, " she said.
"It is always busy, especially after school when all the children come along.
"These are the hours we could lose when they reduce the opening times."
A public meeting to discuss the library will be held in Sedgefield Parish Hall at 7pm on Friday, November 2.
Consultation questionnaires are available in the library.