CONCERNS have been raised over the future of Liden Library following the permanent closure of nearby Covingham Library

Sean Wilson worries that Liden's community hub could be closing as it is managed by the Swindon Community Library Trust, which used to run the Covingham facility from 2017 before handing over responsibilities to the Friends of Covingham Library in early 2020.

The trust, founded by Coun Dale Heenan, insists Liden Library will be reopening shortly and that its future is secured with funding from the parish council.

Mr Wilson said: "The library trust ran out of money to run Covingham and has sought to blame other parties such as the Friends for its closure.

"The Friends of Covingham Library planned to turn it into a volunteer-run community library to reduce costs. But given that many of the volunteers are retired and needed to shield during the pandemic, the library had to close.

"The trust did not make public proper accounts until January 2021 and reports had been submitted late in previous years. The library trust failed to generate sufficient income and has only survived via seed and transitional money from Swindon Borough Council.

"Covingham Library closed as funds were depleted. Now Liden Library is in danger. It needs to be taken back in house as the library trust or parish council has neither the resources or expertise to run it."

.From 2017, the Community Library Trust received funding from Swindon Borough Council and two parish councils - Covingham and Nythe, Eldene & Liden.

In turn, the trust paid SBC for library stock, the librarian’s salary and IT services for the two libraries.

In March 2020, the Friends of Covingham Library took over Covingham Library, which was based in St Paul's Church and dates back to the 1970s but closed its doors for the last time later that month as lockdown arrived.

An announcement in November revealed that this closure would be permanent.

Sean Wilson is the Labour candidate for the Covingham and Dorcan ward in the upcoming election alongside Conservative Barbara Parry, Liberal Democrat Ionel Tamas and independent candidate Clare Bartholomew.

Coun Dale Heenan said: "In January, Sean rang me to discuss libraries and praised my decade-long efforts to keep our local libraries alive and supported everything that has happened.

"Fast forward to April, and it's a constant flow of misleading comments and claims. I have said privately where he is wrong, but he just laughs and carries on. I can only sigh and shake my head in disappointment at his latest negative comments. Please stop.

"The future of Liden Library is secure. The Friends of Covingham Library volunteers are a fantastic team, and when the Covid pandemic has passed, I will be doing all I can to secure a new library outreach service for Covingham and Nythe.

"We must be more positive in our town."

A spokesman for the Library Trust said:"Mr Wilson's claims are incorrect for several reasons. Our charity has not been responsible for Covingham Library for nearly 18 months.

"Most people understand the enormous pressure that Covid has placed on volunteer community groups, and there are sadly consequences when you can't hold events, fundraise and you have to shield at home.

"In four years at Liden, we successfully cut running costs by over 60 per cent, increased book loans by over 40 per cent, and held more events than ever before.

"All our income and expenditure is published online every year, and we have a good working relationship with Nythe, Eldene and Liden Parish Council.

"Our thanks to them for again committing 100 per cent of the funding we need for the year ahead. Our focus is on reopening Liden Library safely in a few days starting with click and collect."

A Nythe, Elden and Liden Parish Council spokesman said: "We have allocated £18,500 for the running of the library for the financial year 2021/2022.

"The library trust has assured us the library is not closing and the parish council have set up a working group to consider if the parish would like to take on the day-to-day running in the future.

"We have had positive feedback on our governance and accounting from the internal auditor's report for 2020/21 which will be advertised online and discussed at a parish council meeting in May."