FOUR libraries across the town are facing cuts, as budget pressures mount on Swindon Council.

At a heated cabinet meeting on Wednesday it was revealed that Gorse Hill and Even Swindon libraries have joined the ranks of libraries under pressure.

Old Town Library is now almost certain to close after supporters rejected plans to run it as a volunteer-led service.

Walcot Library, meanwhile, will be run by volunteers from the Walcot Community Centre, which will move into the library building.

According to Coun Peter Mallinson (Con, Walcot) this action has secured a library facility for the community.

He said: “Our volunteers are for the most part local residents who are willing to do something for their area. This is in marked contrast to the residents of Old Town who having been offered a similar deal have turned it down.

“In times like these it is vital that people come forward and help, Old Town Library can be saved if local people want it.”

At the ill-tempered cabinet meeting Labour councillors were incensed that they had only been informed four hours before the meeting that libraries in their wards were closing.

Coun Ray Ballman (Lab, Gorse Hill and Pinehurst), said: “I am very cross. I hear the cabinet talking about the consultation they have done. There has been no consultation with councillors or residents in the areas affected. This is not open government.”

Coun Nick Martin, lead member for property, leisure and recreation said that the council was looking to vary the library services but were not seeking to permanently close Gorse Hill or Even Swindon.

He said: “If they could be staffed by volunteers then we would be delighted to arrange that. We are also looking at giving out books from the outside, using the mobile library service.”

Coun Jim Grant (Lab, Western) brought up his concerns over the effect on community centres if they were forced to merge with libraries.

He said: “At the moment the community centres receive £1,500 from the council. Will they still be getting this money if these plans go ahead?”

Coun Martin admitted that the centres probably would not receive the money.

Lib Dem leader, Coun Stan Pajak, also expressed his concern about the proposals, saying: “You know the price of libraries but do you know the value of them to this town?”

He went on to urge cabinet members to consider advice from an independent consultant, contacted by Old Town library campaigner, Shirley Burnham.

Coun Martin said that consultations over Gorse Hill and Even Swindon libraries would continue until June and that the council was reviewing the suggestions of Mrs Burnham’s consultant.