VILLAGERS have divided themselves into two 'camps' on how to save their library from closure.

More than 100 residents of Great Ayton attended a public meeting on Wednesday night in the Parochial Hall, called by the Save Great Ayton Library Group (SGALG).

At the meeting it quickly emerged that at a separate meeting between SGALG and North Yorkshire County Council, held last week, the Council had confirmed their would be no U-turn in government funding.

"We have two options; we do nothing, or we develop a business plan for a community building - we have until March 31 next year to get it sorted," said Tamsin Little, from SGALG.

What followed was a dramatic outcry from residents unwilling to accept the decision by the County Council.

"They (North Yorkshire County Council) are dictating to us," said resident Wendy Humpleby, to which Judy Cumbor, from GSALG repied: "The time for campaigning is over, don't shoot the messenger.”

As more residents made it clear they would not give up the fight for funding, the room divided into two camps.

A new 'protest' group was established, while it was agreed SGALG would continue to work with the County Council and develop a business plan by October.

Both camps agreed they would encourage as many villagers as possible to complete a survey, produced by SGALG, which would gage how much the people of Great Ayton were willing to contribute, in both time and money, to keeping their library.

Another option discussed was increasing the parish council's annual precept, currently £38,000, to cover the cost of running the library.

Parish Coun Ron Kirk warned that a raise in council tax to pay for the parish's increased budget may not go down well with residents, as less than half currently use the library.

SGALG's Jennifer Roberts said it would cost £20,000 to run the library annually, excluding staff costs.

Currently, County Council has offered SGALG, in return for the devolving of responsibilty, a peppercorn rent, a member of staff to visit once a month to train volunteers, to replenish book stocks, to provide an IT service, and also a possible one-off amount to help develop the building into a sustainable community building.