BURY will lose at least 10 of its 14 libraries under council plans to save cash.

In the worst case scenario the proposals could potentially see 11 of the facilities shut down, as major changes are made to the borough's library services.

More than 4,000 people took part in the first public consultation and, now, the decision on the future of Bury libraries will be made by councillors next week.

Bury's cabinet will table proposals on Wednesday, hold another public consultation, and then make a final decision at a meeting April.

The two options for cabinet to consider are to save Bury Library, plus the archives, Ramsbottom and Prestwich libraries, or to retain Bury and the archives, Ramsbottom, Prestwich and Radcliffe.

Cllr Sandra Walmsley, cabinet member for strategic housing and support services, said: “We have had to look at every aspect of the service to make sure that we can make the savings that are necessary while still meeting our legal duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient service.

“The current library service is not sustainable. Staff levels have reduced by 30 per cent since the last review, meaning that libraries cannot fulfil their opening hours and are sometimes closed at short notice.

“Also, some of the library buildings are not in great condition and will need major investment in future years, money which we simply don’t have.

“In addition, the number of active members is reducing, and there are not enough staff to grow the service, develop new members or do face-to-face community work. We need to consider how we can enhance the increased demand in some services such as IT access.

“For all these reasons the future of the library service in its current format is a growing concern.”

The aim is to provide at least one main library building in the north, central and southern parts of the borough.

Under both options, 98 per cent of Bury residents would be within 30 minutes’ reach of a library.

Bury Lib Dem leader, Cllr Tim Pickstone raised concerns over the closures effect on some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents.

He said: “The council has been consulting on the future of libraries for months now, but at no stage was such a wholesale closure of so many libraries mentioned.

“We're concerned that moving to just three or four libraries will hurt the most vulnerable in our community, the loneliest and the least able to travel. The council needs to think again.”

Bury Conservative leader, Cllr Iain Gartside, added: “I'm quite shocked by the proposals.

"As Tottington Library is in my ward I'm really disappointed to see that no consultation will be held over whether to close it or not.

"It's the only council building in the whole township, where people go to connect with the council, pay their bills and attend our police pact meeting.

"It's a fantastic community facility and I will fight to keep it open."

Cllr Walmsley said: “Keeping more buildings open would not be viable, because the costs involved would mean a dramatic reduction in the service-wide team, thereby watering down the quality of all library provision across the borough.”

She said the council was keen to work with residents to explore whether buildings could be kept open for community use.

This may include community management of some buildings to include a library service and community activities/meeting place; management by other agencies, e.g. nurseries and playgroups; or establishment of a charitable trust to which some libraries are transferred.

The 14 libraries in Bury include:-

  • Ainsworth Library
  • Brandlesholme Community Centre and Library
  • Bury Library
  • Castle Leisure Centre Library
  • Coronation Road Community Centre and Library
  • Dumers Lane Community Centre and Library
  • Moorside Community Centre and Library
  • Prestwich Library and Adult Learning Centre
  • Radcliffe Library
  • Ramsbottom Library and Adult Learning Centre
  • Topping Fold Community Centre and Library
  • Tottington Library
  • Unsworth Library
  • Whitefield Library and Adult Learning Centre

Visit tinyurl.com/burylibraryproposals to see the council's library service proposal reports.

Send your thoughts on the closures to our reporter Sarah Yates, at sarah.yates@nqnw.co.uk