A PUBLIC meeting has been held to discuss the future of the under-threat Astley Bridge Library.

Around 70 people attended the meeting at the library on Thursday evening, organised by local councillors, John Walsh, Hilary Fairclough and Paul Wild.

Cllr Fairclough told the meeting: “My number one priority is to keep this library open. This building is very important to Astley Bridge and if we lose this building for community use then any vestige of our independence within Bolton disappears.

“There are over 25,000 visits made to this library every year. It is a meeting place, a place of study, a place to access the internet and a valuable resource for our local schools.”

Cllr Walsh said he believed funding was not spread equally across Bolton. He added that £200,000 could be saved with changes to area forum budgets, which would allow the five “at risk” libraries to remain open for the next 12 months.

The council is proposing to close five libraries — Astley Bridge, Highfield, Castle Hill, Oxford Grove and Heaton, a move which could save up to £400,000.

New neighbourhood collections are being proposed in these areas.

Bolton Council is half way through a second period of consultation on the future of the library network.

Just three weeks remain for residents to fill in the council survey, online or by post.

The council issued 7,000 paper copies of the survey to a random sample of residents throughout the borough in order to obtain a fair representation of people’s views.

Anyone who has received a survey through the post should return it in the Freepost envelope by midnight on September 16.

Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, said: “We are doing all we can to encourage people to take part in the consultation and have their say on the proposals for the library network. We welcome the views of everyone who has an opinion on the changes and have enabled people to fill out the questionnaire online.

“However, if anyone has received a paper copy of the survey through the post, I would urge them to take just a few minutes to complete the form and return it in the Freepost envelope provided.”

To have your say on the closures go to bolton.gov.uk/libraries