Fears have been expressed for a community library in Swindon after a large chunk of its funding was withdrawn.

Covingham Parish Council voted earlier this year not to provide funding to Swindon Community Library Trust, which runs Covingham and Liden libraries, after Swindon Borough Council stopped doing so.

Local borough councillor Bazil Solomon, who is also a member of Nythe, Eldene and Liden Parish Council, says he is very worried: “I’m a teacher and books are very important to our children’s education. We give children a lot of homework and they need somewhere where they can go and find books and have a place to read and study.

“I see mums and dads bringing their children to the library here in Liden, and the library in Covingham is part of the St Paul’s Church complex – it’s a very important community centre.

“It is not fair that Nythe, Eldene and Liden Parish Council is funding Liden Library and Covingham and Dorcan Parish Council is not funding Covingham library, I have offered to be our NEL parish trustee on the Library trust and aid both Libraries- Libraries are important for our children from all backgrounds to study for a better future and our elderly to meet others-it is a community asset.”

The deputy leader of Covingham Parish Council, Derek Benfield, said the council had a duty to spend public money well and added: “We are holding back the money because we need to know where and how every half-penny is spent. We have not been given a full balance by the library trust and until we get that, we will be withholding the funding, we’ll be holding on to it until we are satisfied that public money is being spent wisely.”

That version is disputed by the trustees of the Community Library Trust.

A spokesman said: “On January 7, Covingham Parish Council unanimously voted to not continue a grant towards Covingham Library for the next three years that covered 25 per cent of its running costs. This means Covingham Parish is the only parish in Swindon to provide no support for their local community library.

"Instead, the council decided to spend money on new play park equipment and top up their reserve bank account. We understand the different priorities and wish them well, but it is a blow to the library that cannot be sugarcoated.

“All of Covingham Library’s bills are paid up to September 2019, and our complete focus is on fundraising to cover our £14,000 budget next year. Last week, our chairman, Dale Heenan quietly bought, and donated, a new printer and 3 PCs for the libraries to replace old equipment avoiding the need to use much needed funds.

"While our volunteers are helping at the second Covingham Beer Festival on Saturday, June 22 at St Paul’s Churc, we hope as many people as possible take part in this fantastic day, have a good time, enjoy the beer and cider and help raise funds for the church and the library.”

The minutes of the parish council’s January 7 meeting show that councillors were unwilling to give the trust £4,600 – which it said equated to about five percent of the parish council’s annual budget. The minutes say: “The Library Trust is unable to provide accurate information as to the number of Covingham residents actively making use of the facility.”

Again, that is disputed by the trustees. The trust said after it made its application for funding in October it responded to every question asked by the parish council, including a breakdown of monthly expenditure, monthly numbers for all book loans and visitors and information “that showed 78 per cent of users are from Covingham".

Nythe, Eldene and Liden Parish Council funds Liden Library to the tune of £18,000.

Any businesses might like to help sponsor the library, or people with ideas, should contact trustees@swindonlibrarytrust.com