VILLAGERS have pledged to fight for Grove Library after a threat to withdraw funding to save £45,000 a year.

More than 200 people attended a meeting at Old Mill Hall on Friday to come up with a battle plan against Oxfordshire County Council’s proposals.

The library, in School Lane, could close unless volunteers come forward to run it. The residents have now formed the Save Grove Library group to fight the plan.

Vale of White Horse District Council member for Wantage and Grove, Sue Marchant, said: “It is shameful that this decision was taken and that is how all the people at the meeting felt.

“A library is something you have in a village that your children are entitled to. Literacy is so important at the moment. Children are leaving school unable to read properly and write.

“It is more than a library, it is part of Grove. And, if we have 2,500 homes coming to Grove, we should be asking them to extend the library, not close it.”

She said the group would liaise with others across the county to lobby the council.

She added: “We need to get more bodies behind it and with the other ones we have a much stronger voice.”

In the last financial year, 23,400 people visited the library and 28,099 books were taken out.

The annual running costs include about £34,000 for staff and about £6,000 for books.

The county council has suggested closing 20 of its 43 libraries to save £2m over four years.

Zoe Patrick, county council member for Grove, said: “Libraries should not be cut because they are one of the front line services that affect so many people, young and old. It is a community hub where people go for information. And, in Grove, we do not have very much so it is important.” In a letter to the county council, Wendy Grace, headteacher at Grove CofE School, said school visits to the library were important for children. She said: “We are a small school with limited funding and this is a valuable resource which we would lose should the library close.”

In a letter to Grove Parish Council, Sarah Weston, headteacher at Millbrook School, which adjoins the library, said: “At a time when families have increased pressure on their budgets it is likely that they won’t buy books as frequently and children’s experience of literature will be greatly diminished.”

Wantage MP and libraries minister Ed Vaizey said: “These are proposals from the county council and they will be going for formal consultation.

“I welcome the fact that the people in Grove came forward to express their support for their library service and I am sure the county council will listen carefully to what they have to say.”

Brian Edwards, 79, of Harlington Avenue, said using Wantage Library was not a realistic alternative.

He said: “The access to the one in Wantage with regards to elderly people and disabled people is very poor, whereas access in Grove is great.”

He said the county council could explore reducing the opening hours of unaffected libraries in order to save those on the hit list.

He added: “Why isn’t this pain shared equally?”

County council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “No decisions regarding funding for libraries have yet been made.”