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Folkestone library offered hope as Kent County Council guarantees ‘temporary solution’

The fight to save a historic library has been given fresh hope after a councillor promised “a temporary solution will be put in place by the end of this year”.

After closing the 135-year-old building in Grace Hill, Folkestone last December, members at Kent County Council say they are determined to find a solution as soon as possible.

The site has been closed since water entered the structure causing flood damage and making it unsafe.

In March, Cllr Peter Oakford (Con), deputy leader at KCC, confirmed it was unlikely the library would reopen after the true scale of the damages were revealed.

But today, Cllr Oakford, cabinet member for finance corporate and trading services, has confirmed there will be a permanent solution to the issue.

He said: “One of the things we are determined to do is open a library as soon as we can in Folkestone.

“We will open a temporary one while we try and work out what we can do to that building.”

Dozens of campaigners took to the streets in March to protest the closure of the building, after the news was met with fury.

Crowds chanted "'save our library, shame on KCC".

Earlier this month, nesting seagulls were blamed for causing some of the damage which forced the closure.

Cllr Oakley told KentOnline’s sister site KMTV that he wants one of the oldest libraries in the country to reopen, but has to do what is best for both the building and the town

“The works that need doing to the building now means we need to spend around £1.5 million just to get the library open without any enhancements to the building.

“We have spent £490,000 on that building over the past five years.

“We are meeting as a group next Monday to talk about how we can accelerate the opening of a temporary library and archive centre.

“We guarantee there will be the opening of a temporary library before the end of this year.

“There will be a permanent solution, we just can’t say what exactly this will be,” he added.

Additional reporting by Gabriel Morris

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