Hands off!

Really annoyed councillor George Fairhurst outside the WLCT building on Loire Drive with his petition to save Standish Library

Really annoyed councillor George Fairhurst outside the WLCT building on Loire Drive with his petition to save Standish Library

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RESIDENTS delivered a warning over an axe-threatened village library

A ward councillor handed over a petition to service bosses representing more than 1,000 families demanding that Standish library is removed from the cuts programme.

Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust has announced a review after Government cuts of a quarter of its annual budget – more than £1.1m.

It’s believed that six of the 18 libraries are under threat, although councillors may yet to decide to cut opening hours across the entire service instead.

A four-month consultation ends at the end of this month and the recommendations which flow from it will be put to the ruling Metro Cabinet with the decision carried out by Christmas.

Standish Independent Coun George Fairhurst, who organised the petition, said that the eagerness of residents to sign up to the protest showed how passionately they feel about the library.

He used the hand-over to Trust chiefs to propose an alternative package of proposals to boost, rather than save, revenue.

This includes letting off part of the existing building to the private sector as a coffee bar and a range of free-standing advertisement hoardings.

Standish, he pointed out, had the biggest book borrowing/library user figures, outside of the main Wigan and Leigh town libraries.

Coun Fairhurst said: “There are a number of towns who have a library, a leisure hall and a sports centre involved in this review. But, if they close the library here, there is nothing else to fall back on as we don’t have a sports centre or a leisure hall, so I am hoping that this is taken into account.

“If they close the library here they will be ripping the heart out of the place.”

There have been more than 1,365 written responses received to date during the consultation – with more than 141 from Standish library users.

Last year more than 1,320,559 residents used the borough’s libraries which issued 1,335,317 items.

Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust said: “We are committed to finding the best solution to reducing the library budget by £1.1m.

“Costs vary from site to site and there are scores of factors involved. Any recommendations on numbers or service reduction, which may include a reduction in opening hours, will only be made after a full review.”