Decision looms on libraries future

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THE future of Scarborough’s threatened libraries is set to become clearer after the conclusion of a consultation process into the controversial plans.

North Yorkshire County Council bosses have announced a decision will be made in May about whether to call the last chapter on the under-threat facilities.

A total of 24 libraries were put on the hit list, including Scalby, Eastfield, Ayton and Hunmanby.

Last month, the libraries were given a £650,000 boost after councillors found £300,000 from the library book service and £350,000 from its general corporate budget.

In response to the opposition county councillors took the decision to establish the one-off fund to buy more time for libraries to remain in operation until communities can put forward their proposals for running library services.

They also agreed to look at solutions across the whole library service instead of targeting smaller libraries.

However, the spectre of closure still looms large as the authority looks to make £2.3 million savings by closing 24 of its 42 libraries and increasing future volunteer support and mobile services.

Hundreds of worried Scarborough residents attended meetings at the town’s central library earlier this year to debate the issue with county council officials and protests and meetings were carried out at the four libraries to show the depth of support to retain the facilities.

The Evening News also received more than 200 responses from its campaign to keep the libraries open.

A council spokesperson said: “The consultation, which ended this week, encouraged members of the public to give their views on how the county council can best protect the library service, while at the same time having to face severe cuts in Government funding.

“Thousands of letters, e-mails and response forms as well as thousands of signatures on locally organised petitions in support of local libraries were submitted and more than 2,000 people attended public meetings to have their say.

“All of the responses received are currently undergoing a thorough analysis and a full report covering the findings and highlighting issues raised on how to maintain a valued service will be produced.”