FEARS about youth groups and the elderly dominated questioning after a library review presentation at Bury East Township Forum.
Bury Council faces financial pressure to reduce its library offering as a cost cutting measure and is consulting the public on two options.
These options will keep 98 per cent of the borough within a 30 minute public transport trip of a library.
This is not good enough according to Gary Hardman of the Seedfield Tenant and Resident Association.
Following a presentation by Elizabeth Binns, head of libraries for the council, he said: “In the reports and in the presentation you mention the importance of community.
“I don’t see how having three libraries is going to help communities in Bury.”
He argued Bury Library was not a “welcoming space” particularly for the over 65s.
He continued: “Especially compared to local community libraries. I don’t think what’s happening here is going to support Bury communities. People who come to our community library tell me they feel abandoned by Bury Council.”
Responding to his comments, Councillor Trevor Holt admitted he was horrified that it had come to looking at closing libraries calling it “obscene” but added the council was moving into “unchartered” waters fiscally.
Additionally, Mr Hardman asked if some of the £7 million added to the council budget by the Chancellor for adult social care could be spent on library provision, arguing improving the mental and physical health of the elderly by giving them a place to get out to would alleviate some social care problems.
Cllr Holt explained it could not be as it is earmarked for spending directly on adult social care.
Residents from Topping Fold at the meeting were concerned about losing their youth group B:easties, which currently operates out of the community library.
Jenny Heywood who has been running the group said: “Since we have run the youth club the anti social behaviour has gone down. Where do the children go from there?”
Ms Binns said: “I have not got the money to keep that building open but there may be other things we can do.”
Cllr Holt urged the group to keep going and continue its good work. He said: “That community spirit in Topping Fold is not just about that building, it will continue somehow or other.”
In the presentation, Ms Binns set out the stark figures the council is up against when looking at keeping its library provision operational.
She said: “The council has been hammered and lost over 50 per cent of its controllable budget, we have got to reassess the services we provide, there’s not enough money in the budget to continue the library service as it is now.”
Two options are available to choose from in the council’s consultation. The first option would save Bury Library and the archives, Prestwich Library and Ramsbottom Library, the second would save Radcliffe Library too.
To take part in the consultation visit www. surveymonkey.co.uk/r/bury-libraries-consultation.