THE fight to save two local libraries has stepped up a gear this week.
Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan visited under-threat Shadwell and Scholes libraries - and was handed hundreds of letters of objection from angry village residents.
Mr Riordan was also met by local ward councillors, who voiced their own concerns at any future plan to shut the “vital” community facilities.
Mr Riordan went on to issue a personal apology to a Scholes parish councillor after he was inadvertantly sent an offensive email describing villagers as “silly sods.”
He met councillor George Hall, an elected member of Barwick and Scholes Parish Council, during his fact-finding visit to Scholes Library on Monday.
As previously reported by the Wetherby News, parish councillors were outraged after Coun Hall was inadvertently copied into an e-mail sent by the boss of Leeds libraries to her deputy. Coun Hall and fellow councillor Ben Hogan, Chairman of Barwick and Scholes Parish Council, were invited to a top level meeting at the Civic Hall yesterday, Thursday, to discuss the library issue.
Accompanied by city council member Matthew Robinson, they were meeting Martin Farrington, Acting Director of City Development.
“We are seeking explanations,” Coun Hall told the Wetherby News, saying they would ask what disciplinary action is to be taken against the officer who sent the email.
“We certainly do not believe this officer should take any further part in deciding the future of Scholes library,”
Meantime, Coun Robinson and fellow ward members councillors Rachael Procter and Ann Castle have re-affirmed their objection to any move to shut the two village libraries.
“People are very concerned, and I’m pleased that the Chief Executive could visit both Scholes and Shadwell Library with us.” Coun Robinson said.
Chocolat author backs campaign
BEST-SELLING author Joanne Harris thown her weight behind our Save Our Libraries campaign.
Ms Harris, writer of acclaimed novel Chocolat and a former teacher at The Grammar School at Leeds, said she is determined to fight any local library cuts.
“I am happy to back the Wetherby News campaign” she said.
“I know that local authorities are under pressure to make cuts, and that in some ways they have been put into an impossible position by the Government.
“However, I do urge them to spare a thought for our libraries and what they mean to our communities, to the literacy of our children, our schools, the well-being of our elderly and handicapped .
“We are told that libraries have to close because they are not cost-effective.
“But how can you quantify the things that a community library provides? What price your child’s literacy? Your passion for books? Your book club? That accidental discovery? That sudden inspiration to do something you might never have thought of, if you hadn’t read about it in a library book?
“We are told that some libraries can survive if they are staffed by volunteers. But how can this work in practice? Who are these volunteers? Where will they come from? How can we expect a volunteer to do the job that was previously carried out by a trained librarian with a degree?
“This plan makes about as much sense as replacing schoolteachers, or nurses, or care workers with untrained, unpaid assistants.”