A CAMPAIGN has begun calling for the Link Centre library to retain its place front of house as a private operator prepares to take over control of the building.

Greenwich Leisure Limited has now agreed a date of November 1 for the handover of a number of assets from Swindon Council, including the Link Centre.

Under the proposals, the library would remain under the control of the borough, but is likely to be moved upstairs.

Now, residents are calling for clarity into the plans and have bucked against the notion that the library could lose its prominent location.

Coun Jim Robbins (Lab, Mannington and Western), initiated a petition on Friday which has already generated a good response.

“This has come from residents, and people are very unhappy about the plans,” he said. “They want the library to be protected because they care about it.

“The location of the library at the Link Centre is very good currently and it seems silly to change that on the whim of GLL.”

Coun Robbins added the current location is purpose built with loading bays for the library.

“There are also concerns about access, and we have got a lot of community groups including a group of blind people and mothers with prams who would find access to the upstairs difficult,” he said.

“The space is purpose built to be a library, and it seems silly to shoehorn it into a space which is less suitable.

“It seems that when this administration start dealing with businesses they roll over.”

The petition has already attracted interest from Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman.

Libraries campaigner Shirley Burnham said: “We want people to be using our libraries, and this could reduce it in size. When you reduce libraries in size you you reduce the book stock and generally start hollowing it out.

“I am fully behind the campaign, and I think there is interest in how GLL is thinking about the libraries that it runs in Lincolnshire at the moment, and there is a clear effort to commercialise the premises.”

Coun Keith Williams, cabinet member for leisure, said: ”The rationale behind this is that the council have for a number of years been looking at relocating the gym downstairs.

“The gym generated revenue for the council which helped subsidise other assets such as the library.

“The £1.2m annual cost of assets, including the library, mean that measures need to be taken such as trying to increase membership at the gym.

“Library staff are going to be going to London on 16 October to hear from GLL what the plans will be. They have a lady who has an MBE for services to libraries. They have had a real push for options including self service machines and having longer opening hours.

“We do have a large number of disabled people and mothers using the upstairs facilities, and one of the items included in the £3m investment proposed will be refurbishment of the lift in the Link Centre.”