A LOCAL campaign group says Swindon Borough Council need to listen to people voicing their opinions on proposed changes to the town’s libraries.

Save Swindon Libraries, which is opposed to plans which will see nearly all of the town’s libraries run by volunteers, has said many residents are angry at the proposal.

Earlier this year, the council announced said it needed to slash the library budget by almost 60 per cent.

With huge savings needed, it says this is the only way to ensure services remain but many against fear if volunteers cannot be found some sites will close leaving the central library as the only one remaining.

The group has attended many public engagement events on the proposals, including one at Parks Library which was attended by people of all ages.

“All ages are represented here, which demonstrates how vital this service is to all sectors of the community,” said Sarah Church, of the group.

“I’ve met people here from Walcot too, and I’ve been hearing that here in Parks, access is key for library users who are elderly or who have limited mobility as most cannot get to Central Library.”

No decision has been made on the any of the sites and in the summer a library strategy will be produced.

But Sarah, and many in the campaign, feel the tone of current consultation shows the direction the council is already set on taking.

She said: “I think it’s clear that the public don’t want to be complicit in the reduction of the professional service they value so highly.

“Swindon Council say that there are no solid plans on the table yet, but the tenor of the engagement process so far does seem to ask communities how they can help Swindon spend less on libraries.

“That’s a leading sort of question, and residents around the Borough are answering instead that they don’t want to see any cuts at all in library services.”

Talis Kimberley-Fairbourn, also of Save Swindon Libraries had a similar experience in Wroughton.

“What we’ve seen here in the feedback from members of the public mirrors what we’ve seen at the other events,” she said.

“Namely that residents don’t want to engage with the council on changing their service, so much as they’re turning up to say a very clear no to the budget cuts.”

Councillor Garry Perkins (Con, Haydon Wick), the cabinet member for libraries, said with £50 million in savings needed over the next three years, a new approach was needed.

He said: “We have to do something about the budget so rather than just cut the service we want to speak with people about what they want going forward.

“We have given ourselves plenty of time so for now the closure of libraries is not something we are looking at.”

Details of the consultation can be found by visiting www.swindon.gov.uk.