Portsmouth author jokes about rewriting councillor's future amid Hampshire library closure talks

A SENIOR councillor could find himself as the villain of an upcoming novel, if he agrees to close libraries in Hampshire.

Monday, 13th January 2020, 1:17 pm
Updated Monday, 13th January 2020, 5:04 pm

Earlier today a meeting was held between prominent Hampshire authors and Councillor Sean Woodward, the executive member for recreation and heritage at the county council.

An open letter with 81 signatories, including Neil Gaiman and Philip Hoare, was delivered to the council, opposing proposals to close 10 libraries across Hampshire including Lee-on-the-Solent, Elson in Gosport, Horndean and Emsworth.

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The Save Hampshire Libraries Protest. Pictures: Bob Rowson

But one author has come up with the perfect ultimatum for Cllr Woodward.

Portsmouth-based novelist Pauline Rowson says she may write the councillor out of existence in her next book, depending on his decision on the closures.

She said: ‘If Cllr Woodward decides to close the libraries, he may find himself in my next crime novel.

‘Whether he ends up as a villain or a victim, I haven’t quite decided yet. Either way I could kill him off.’

Portsmouth crime author, Pauline Rowson

Cllr Woodward says no decision has been made on the future of the libraries, and that he is ‘open-minded' when it comes to other options.

‘It’s an open consultation with many options,’ he said.

‘But I ask that they put themselves in my position, with cuts needing to be made and having to choose between helping the elderly get out of bed each morning, or save money by reducing the opening hours of libraries that aren't greatly used.

‘I shall look forward to featuring in Ms Rowson’s novel, in whatever guise that may be – she’s a great author.’

Hampshire County Council is looking to save £1.76m from its libraries budget, as part of an £80m budget shortfall that needs to be made up by 2021.

The consultation will run until March 18.

James McConnachie, who compiled the open letter to the council, says the council's attitude towards libraries has to change.

He said: ‘Cllr Woodward talks about libraries being sad and unused as justification for cuts, rather than something his administration should be ashamed of.

‘He's promised us that he will champion the library service, but we will carry on fighting for as long as we need to.’