Dolly Parton book scheme in Rotherham to be scrapped, council confirms

Dolly Parton launches the scheme in 2007
Dolly Parton launches the scheme in 2007
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A scheme backed by country music star Dolly Parton designed to encourage South Yorkshire children to read is to be scrapped, a council has confirmed.

No further children will be enrolled onto the Imagination Library in Rotherham although youngsters already receiving books will continue to do so until February.

Rotherham was the first town in Britain to adopt the Imagination Library programme which was started by Ms Parton in the United States.

The global star visited South Yorkshire in 2007 to launch the scheme which involved sending books every month to young children in the town.

It has seen almost one million books distributed in Rotherham reaching around 85 per cent of the town’s under-fives.

But earlier this year, Rotherham Council revealed it was considering abandoning the scheme as it tries to balance its books in the face of cuts in funding from the Government.

Imagination Library costs the authority up to £400,000 a year and the authority is looking to make savings of around £23 million.

After holding a public consultation, the council has now confirmed it intends to press ahead with the proposal to end the scheme.

A statement said: “Children will continue to receive a Bookstart baby pack between birth and 12 months and a Bookstart Treasure Pack between three and fout years through the national Bookstart scheme, plus there is free access to books and Rhymetime activities in Council libraries.”

Dollywood Foundation UK, the organisation overseeing the scheme for the singer, has previously expressed disappointment at the council’s decision.

Anyone wishing to comment on Rotherham Council’s proposal should email debbie.pons@rotherham.gov.uk by 5pm on Monday.

Imagination Library schemes operate elsewhere in the UK including parts of Sheffield and Pocklington.