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Saturday, 02 August 2014

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Campaign launched to keep Workington library open

A Workington councillor is launching a campaign to save his community’s library from the chop.

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Moorclose library is one of 20 in the county to have been put on an at-risk list by Cumbria County Council.

But independent councillor Denis Robertson, who lives in the ward, has vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to save the facility from closure.

And he urged fellow residents not to let it become another victim of the cuts.

“This library is a real part of the community and I do not want it to fall by the wayside,” said Mr Robertson, an Allerdale Borough councillor.

“A lot of people use our library, I use it myself. It’s not just books, you can get films and all sorts and it’s a meeting place for a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise see each other. It’s also handy for all the local schools. We won’t sit back and watch it close.”

Moorclose is one of 11 libraries in west Cumbria currently under threat.

The others are Hensingham, Kells, Mirehouse, Distington, Frizington, Gosforth, Seascale, Seaton, St Bees and Thornhill. In addition, mobile library vans could also be taken off the road.

An informal consultation is currently underway to gauge public opinion, with the county council’s ruling cabinet due to discuss the closure at their meeting in July. If they agree, a formal consultation will then be launched in the autumn with a view to making changes the following year.

Officials insist that the changes are about modernisation, not saving money. They believe they can offer a better service in ‘library links’ where up to 400 popular titles can be borrowed through village shops, pubs, community centres and other outlets.

But Mr Robertson, who has joined forces with Mossbay town councillor John Bracken, said losing the library would be another nail in the coffin of a vibrant area like Moorclose. “I know there have to be cuts but I honestly believe that this is one of the facilities that should be saved,” he added.

“The library is as much a part of the community as the baths and the sixth form centre. I won’t sit back and watch any of them close. I have already raised this at meetings but as soon as there are any firm proposals I will be starting a petition and knocking on doors. This can’t happen.”

Although he is standing for re-election, Mr Robertson said he would fight for the library regardless of the outcome. And he urged fellow councillors to put the community, instead of politics, first.

“Instead of points scoring, it’s time we all worked together as a unit and put our communities first,” he added.

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