A DEDICATED library volunteer has defended his team of volunteers who have battled on to keep the library open – despite having had no computers since Christmas.

Peter Mallinson, 80, revealed that Swindon Borough Council had not provided the new Walcot Library with facilities such as telephones or a book renewal system until a few weeks ago, yet they have still soldiered on. The library moved from Sussex Square to Sussex Place five months ago.

Mr Mallinson sprang to the defence of volunteer-run libraries in the wake of comments made by Councillor Jim Robbins (Lab, Mannington and Western) to Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn during a discussion about the campaign to save Swindon libraries from the threat of closure.

It comes as 14 of the town’s 15 libraries could be shut as part of proposals to cut £50 million from its budget over the next three years.

Mr Mallinson, who has been the man behind the volunteer-run Walcot Library for the past six years, has hit back and says the comments about the volunteers and Walcot Library failing are unfair.

He said: “The reason why the book renewals are low is that the library wasn’t fit for purpose.

“The keys to the new library were handed over to the library service late last year. Since then very little has been done by the library service to provide services up to a couple of weeks ago.

“We are in a new location and for five months we had no computers, printer or telephone. A lot of people use the library for IT, especially in this area, so when they have come in and seen the computers not working they stop coming.

“The only facility has been a single wall of book shelves from which to make issues. With lending the books the only system we had was a pencil and paper and we wrote a piece of paper what went out. Word gets around so people just don’t come.

“There is still no telephone service to connect to Central Library and the volunteers are also using their private telephones to do library work and it should never be like that.”

And he added: “I want to see the libraries saved, it is why there is one in Walcot because we saved it six years ago.”

Garry Perkins (Con, Haydon Wick) said yesterday that the delay in facilities was due to automation which is being rolled out and taking longer than expected.

He said: “There has been some teething problems and that is not unusual.

“The contracts with the IT was with an outside company and there were some delays.

“This has now been brought back in-house to Swindon Borough Council. Three of the four computers are now up and running. The fourth should be running by the end of today and the phone line will also be connected next week."