THE fight to save four threatened libraries in the Scarborough area has gathered further momentum.
The libraries in Ayton, Eastfield, Scalby and Hunmanby all face closure if North Yorkshire County Council presses ahead with £2 million budget cuts.
However, new figures obtained by from the County Council show there are more than 11,000 active users spread between the four libraries, who would be forced to use Scarborough Library or alternative services in Malton, Pickering and Whitby if their facility closed.
The statistics also show exactly half of the stated 10,480 population of Newby, Scalby, Hackness and Staintondale regularly use Scalby Library, with 35 per cent of the 10,010 people in Eastfield and Cayton and 34 per cent of the 4,550 living in Ayton actively accessing their libraries.
Scarborough councillors have railed against the proposals with Brian Simpson, Johan Zegstroo and Geoff Evans setting up a petition to save Eastfield Library.
Cllrs Andrew Backhouse and Derek Bastiman have also thrown their support behind Scalby Library, and cllr Backhouse revealed a public meeting will take place in January at Scarborough Library to allow residents to have their say.
He also confirmed he has held discussions with county chiefs about setting up a meeting to thrash out talks over their proposals.
He said he understood the need for the authority to make savings, but added taking away libraries would remove a vital artery from local communities.
He said: “With the economy as it is the budget are being trimmed back but there comes a time when they have to realise the value of the libraries and look at cutting periphery services.
“The figures are beginning to stack up now in a more favourable manner to show just how valuable these libraries really are.”
Cllr Backhouse pointed to the cultural necessity of libraries and said they were important for so many different people.
He added: “Newby as an area has the library as its one real community facility but they want to take it away.
“It isn’t just the retired and elderly and unemployed who use the libraries, but there are a lot of younger people reliant on them for internet access and children for reading classes.
“How are those people going to manage if it is taken away?
“They are saying they should go to Scarborough Library, but that is a very busy hub already, and for some people would involve having to use two buses to get there.”
Under the plans, the council also announced it would take its 10 mobile libraries for rural areas off the road and replace with them with an extra ‘super-mobile’ library.
However, the proposals have been hit with widespread condemnation from local residents, with more than 150 so far backing the Evening News’ campaign to retain the libraries.
A final decision on the plans is expected in early February.