Campaigners fighting to save two local libraries have won a victory.
After months of uncertainty, and following a public consultation and hundreds of letters of objections from residents and library users, Scholes and Shadwell libraries have been saved from the axe.
Coun Matthew Robinson (Cons, Harewood) said: “This is fantastic news for us and a victory for local people and the wider community. We had the odds stacked against us all the way through this and I am delighted that the people‘s voice has been heard.
“I think people power has won this victory for us.”
Under plans to be put to Leeds City Council’s executive board next week, Scholes Library will remain open 15 hours a week while Shadwell will stay open while plans for it being run by the community are discussed and formed.
However, if Leeds City Council decides the plans for the Shadwell library being community run are not viable the council is expected to close the facility at the end of March 2012.
Coun Robinson said: “The amount of correspondence we received on the closures issue was in the hundreds; not to mention the community meetings that were packed to the rafters.
“The feedback from residents in both villages was unequivocal; we want our library to stay.
“Of course, there is still work to be done. Shadwell Library is to be subject to an asset transfer in ten months time, which will need careful handling, but people should be heartened that all their hard work was not in vain.
The news about Scholes has been met with delight for Scholes Parish Council.
Norma Fletcher, parish councillor for Scholes, who has fought for the library to remain open over the last few months, said: “I are delighted by this and it is great for the community. This village has lost so much in the last few years it would have been devastating to lose the library too. The library here is a fantastic service for local people and I am thrilled that it will remain open.”
Coun Rachael Procter (Cons, Harewood) said: “The news that both Scholes and Shadwell libraries are to stay open is a victory for local people in the truest sense.
“Ever since these proposals were first mooted, the people of both Scholes and Shadwell united in their determination to oppose the closures. The level of engagement from local residents on this issue has been nothing short of staggering and this clearly has had a huge bearing on the outcome of the consultation.”
Last year Leeds City Council outlined proposals for a shake-up that left up to 20 libraries facing the axe.
Children who use the library in Scholes will also benefit from the decision. Pam Edwards, headteacher at Scholes Elmet Primary School said she was ‘delighted’ to hear the news.
She said: “I am over the moon about this and the children are delighted. They use the facilities at the local library and as a resource for the children it is invaluable to us. I have told the children in assembly today and they were cheering they were so pleased with the news.”
The paper going to next week’s council executive board has condemned 15 out of 53 of the city’s libraries to close in total.
Coun Robinson said: “The good news about Shadwell and Scholes is also tinged with sadness at the news that 15 libraries across Leeds have had to close which is definitely not what any of us wanted.”