CAMPAIGNERS are calling for special local meetings to be held to give residents a chance to discuss plans for five under-threat libraries.

Councillors have already organised a meeting this Thursday to discuss options for Astley Bridge Library.

Now the Save Bolton Libraries Campaign is calling on Bolton Council and local councillors to organise similar meetings in the other four areas where libraries are at risk of closure.

Ian McHugh, secretary of the Save Bolton Libraries Campaign, said: “We welcome the initiative by Astley Bridge councillors to hold a public meeting, responding to the anger and frustration of local residents.

“We are disappointed that Bolton Council has imposed such a short timescale for the library consultation over the summer holiday period. “They have now ruled out democratic debate about each of the five proposed closures where it belongs— in the local area forums.

“We would now be happy to work with other local councillors to organise similar meetings in Castle Hill, Heaton, Highfields and Halliwell, where library users feel equally strongly about the great public service they stand to lose.”

Astley Bridge library is one of five which the council has earmarked for closure in a bid to save £400,000.

The other libraries set for the axe are Highfield, Oxford Grove, Heaton and Castle Hill, with the council’s current proposal being to replace them with neighbourhood collection points.

Council leader and Halliwell councillor Cliff Morris said residents had already discussed library closures at area forums earlier this year.

He added: “If people still want to organise local meetings then that is fine and I will attend, but these meetings cannot be part of the public consultation.

“Oxford Grove was discussed at the last Halliwell forum and the councillors answered the questions of people who came.

“We are not hiding from this— we are doing a public consultation.”

The Tory group on the council is looking to put forward a detailed proposal on how the authority can make the savings required without closing any libraries.

● The public meeting takes place at Astley Bridge library, in Moss Bank Way, on Thursday, starting at 7pm.