Hundreds meet to save library

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THE CLOSURE of a Scarborough library would amount to an act of “cultural vandalism”, a councillor has said.

At a packed meeting on the future of Scalby Library, members of the public also made impassioned pleas to save the facility.

North Yorkshire County Council has to find savings to the library service of at least £2.3 million over the next two years, and Scalby has been threatened with the axe.

However, it was made clear to County Councillor Andrew Backhouse, who chaired the meeting, that locals would not lose the library without a fight.

Cllr Derek Bastiman said the 175 people who packed into the library showed the strength of feeling over the issue.

“This library caters for all age groups and is at the heart of this ever-growing community where children can do their homework and their elders can enjoy leisure reading,” he said.

“It beggars belief that the county council can even consider closing this library when you consider it serves in excess of 10,000 council tax charge payers.

“If this library was to close and people were expected to travel into town on what can only be described by some as an appalling public transport service it would be tantamount to cultural vandalism.”

A 1300 signature petition was handed over to the county council representatives on the night.

Year seven Scalby School pupil Jamie Trigg also presented a petition with around 350 signatures which he had collected from his fellow pupils.

Cllr Backhouse said that the county council faced difficult decisions, after their reduced settlement from central government was announced.

Around £700,000 is used to fund Scarborough’s central library alone.

Libraries in Hunmanby, Ayton and Eastfield have also been threatened with closure.

Cllr Backhouse said: “It is all well and good suggesting that people from our more rural areas can catch a bus and use the town centre library.

“What I would suggest is that they close the town library and let people catch the buses out to us.

“The savings from that one move alone will nearly double what the County Council will save by closing the four rural libraries.”

He added: “It may be controversial but it is obvious to us all that the central libraries need looking at with a critical eye.

“The Vernon Road site is owned by the county council and could be sold to gain a capital receipt, with the central library being relocated to our town centre high street in another format.”

The meeting had started with a presentation from Chrys Mellor, the county council’s general manger for library services.

He gave examples of areas, such as Grassington and Hawes, where libraries run on a community model had been successful.

Community-run libraries receive minimal government funding and are staffed by volunteers from local areas.

However a suggestion of a similar model being adopted at Scalby proved unpopular, with Cllr Bastiman saying the community the library served was too large.

Representatives from the county council said that all feedback will be taken on board.

Another meeting will be held in April, when county council officers will have the opportunity to present indicative plans on the future of the library.