‘Strong chance’ that libraries will stay open

Cllr Brian Simpson (front) pictured outside Eastfield Library with other councillors and library users who  launched a petition to fight the planned closure.'1029150a.

Cllr Brian Simpson (front) pictured outside Eastfield Library with other councillors and library users who launched a petition to fight the planned closure.'1029150a.

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SCARBOROUGH’s libraries have a “strong possibility” of staying open - despite Government cuts - thanks to the number of volunteers who have come forward.

Under-threat facilities at Scalby, East Ayton, Eastfield and Hunmanby could be saved from closure - but a final decision cannot be made until the matter goes before North Yorkshire County Council’s executive in November.

Residents feared that the local facilities would face the axe when it was announced that the council was losing £70 million of funding from central Government.

However, after receiving many proposals and plans from volunteer groups, the council is now hoping that all of North Yorkshire’s 42 libraries will be able to remain open.

County councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for the library service, said: “There has been a tremendous response from communities.

“It would be wrong to give any guarantees at this stage, but the proposals and business plans we have received from community groups are all extremely promising, and we will do all we can to assist to turn them into reality.”

Critical to the success of maintaining the service is the creation of teams of volunteers to help run the libraries.

“Following the feedback from the consultation to ‘share the pain’, all of our libraries will see a reduction in opening hours, some of as much as 30 per cent, unless suitable numbers of volunteers can be found to assist,” said Cllr Metcalfe.

Communities have until the end of October to present the county council with their proposals for taking over the running of, their libraries and, unless sustainable solutions are produced, libraries will close in April 2012.

Plans will be considered by the Care and Independence Overview and Scrutiny Committee on November 16, before going to the Executive on November 22.

Councillor Metcalfe added: “We have been very gratified by the enthusiasm and support shown by communities which do not want to lose their libraries. We have volunteers ranging from teenagers who want to gain experience – and perhaps add useful information to their CVs – to older people who love books and want to play an active part in keeping their library at the heart of the community.

“The more volunteers we get, the better the service will be – whether it’s to read to children, to deliver books using the home library service or to help in other ways to maintain the library service that is so highly valued in North Yorkshire.”