TV comedy writer Eric Chappell gives backing to library protest in Grantham

Playwright Eric Chappell. 858B

Playwright Eric Chappell. 858B

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Comedy writer Eric Chappell has given his backing to the protest against proposals to close county libraries as part of sweeping cuts.

Mr Chappell, who wrote the TV comedy Rising Damp and lives in Barrowby, says he will sign a petition against the cuts which include reducing the opening hours of Grantham library by five.

The Save Lincolnshire Libraries protest group is holding a public meeting on Monday, September 16, in the Newton Room in the Guildhall Arts Centre at 7.30pm.

Mr Chappell said: “My first ever literary influence was in my local library. Throughout my career I have used libraries to research my material.”

He said that going online for books is not the same rich experience as visiting a library and that many books now out of print are still available tucked in the corner on library shelves and his other favourite places, secondhand bookshops.

Eric often visits libraries for research but does not take out any books in the course of his work. His said his own experience reveals the weakness in the Lincolnshire County Council’s argument that libraries are not used enough when their figures are based on book loans only.

Grantham South County Councillor Charmaine Morgan, a member of the Council’s Communities Scrutiny Committee, which refused to endorse the proposals, said: “Our library services play a pivotal role in our communities and only a library offers a chance to browse and discover new topics or authors for free. These cuts will hit those living in our rural communities and vulnerable people relying on access to Grantham’s stretched library services the most. Rural children will be particularly affected.”

In a bid to save £2m from the library budget the County Council Executive plans to reduce the number of villages receiving a mobile library service from 400 to 126. It is proposed that only 15 out of 47 libraries remain open.

Local poet Val Odell will be one of the guest speakers at Monday’s meeting. Petition forms will also be available to sign.

There is an on-line petition to sign at http://SaveLincsLibraries.org.uk