Battle to save libraries hots up

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THE campaign to save four threatened libraries in the Scarborough area has intensified after a fiery public meeting with county council officials.

More than 200 residents attended the debate in Scarborough Library to find out more about the future of facilities in Eastfield, Scalby, Ayton and Hunmanby.

The libraries could close as the authority seeks to find savings of £2.3 million in the next four years.

Council chiefs Chris Metcalfe, Derek Law and Julie Blaisdale appealed for community support to run the libraries on a voluntary basis.

They also reiterated no decisions had been made and all options would remain open until the end of the consultation period on February 28.

However, they were constantly barracked by residents desperate to retain their facility.

Cllr Andrew Backhouse, who is working alongside Cllr Derek Bastiman to save Scalby Library, told the meeting that losing the facilities would have a major impact on local people.

He told the meeting: “What you have to remember is that we have the second largest population of young people in the borough and there are proposals for new homes in Scalby.

“The coastal corridor is bearing the brunt of the cuts again.”

Cllr Brian Simpson set up a petition alongside Cllrs Geoff Evans and Johan Zegstroo to save Eastfield Library and also spoke at the debate.

He said: “Eastfield Library sits in a unique position because it serves Eastfield, Cayton and Osgodby.

“It is vital that we keep it open and I intend to do everything I can to do that.”

Under the plans, North Yorkshire County Council would also cut its 10 mobile libraries and replace them with an extra ‘super-mobile’ library.

However, its larger facilities, including Scarborough and Filey Libraries would be retained.

Former Scarborough mayor Cllr Bill Chatt, who represents the Woodlands ward, was one of a number of speakers from the audience on the evening and said he was appalled by the potential cuts.

He said: “It is significant that a big cut comes from this area. Is it because we are 56 miles away or is it that you don’t care about us?

“When I was mayor, I invited Mr Metcalfe to attend the Literary Festival in Scarborough Library and he said to me then that libraries are the heart of a community.

“Well thank you for ripping the heart out of our library.”

Mr Metcalfe, the authority’s executive member for Adult and Community Services, said he was aware of the precarious situation and wanted to find a solution of working with the public.

He said: “The library service does a terrific job here and when I said that I was not aware what the financial state of the country was and what the implications would be 12 months on.

“I still believe what I said and want to find a solution.”

Hunmanby parish councillor Eddie Flory brought a halt to proceedings to present a petition from schoolchildren in the village, and Derek Law, the council’s corporate director for Adult and Community Services, said he could empathise with the overriding feeling.

He said: “We feel as passionate about libraries as you do. That is why we are looking for solutions against the backdrop of having to find very large cuts.

“We are not walking away from the libraries, we genuinely want to work in partnerships.

“We need to look at what we can do together and remember that one size does not fit all.

“But what we will do is work with you to find out the solutions.”

l You can have your say by filling in the attached form.

The Evening News will pass all of them on to the council for consideration.