PEOPLE power has forced council bosses to perform a U-turn on controversial proposals to shut Unsworth library.

At a meeting at the Sunny Bank Road building on Tuesday night, attended by 300 people, council leader Bob Bibby revealed the library would remain open after all.

He bowed to public pressure after a high-profile community campaign was launched to save the library from closure. Scores of schoolchildren joined the protest, as well as Guy Garvey, lead singer of Bury band Elbow. He said the planned closure would be a “terrible loss”, having used it frequently in his childhood.

Cash-strapped Bury Council had earmarked the building for shutdown in a bid to save £29,300 as part of its overall £12.2 million budget cuts for the next financial year.

Speaking to the Bury Times yesterday, Cllr Bibby confirmed the threat of closure surrounding Unsworth library had been lifted.

He said: “I did listen to the enormous number of letters and phone requests from the people of Unsworth. I decided that the library should be allowed to stay open another 12 months.

“But whatever cuts I make in the budget, the opposition will make mischief of.”

Cllr Bibby said that Unsworth and other libraries would be part of a future review to look at alternative ways of running the service, including reducing costs. But he stressed the aim was to “enable communities to keep their libraries”.

He added: “Obviously, as leader of the council I don’t want to cut anything. As far as Unsworth library is concerned, its closure would have had an effect on the future of children’s education and also the ability for residents to access computers. I thought that would be an incorrect step.”

In December, ward councillors Joan Grimshaw and Ann Audin launched a campaign aimed at averting the shutting of the library and its possible sell-off.

Last week, more than 400 people staged a protest at the building ahead of Tuesday night’s meeting at which the council leader gave an assurance that the library would not shut.

Cllr Grimshaw said: “I cautiously welcome Cllr Bibby’s words and see it as a tremendous victory for local people who value this library highly as a vital community hub.

“Many people have been involved with this campaign and, if Cllr Bibby’s assurance proves to be trustworthy, then this is a wonderful result.”