AN ACTOR has spoken out about the importance of libraries to communities after Town Hall bosses approved the closure of five libraries in Bolton.

John Levitt, aged 72, who will be appearing in Habeus Corpus at the Octagon from Thursday, met protesters who were voicing their disapproval against the closures when they gathered outside the Central Library last week.

And Mr Levitt, who is heavily involved in community groups and libraries in London where he lives, said he was impressed by the campaigners’ commitment.

He added: “You can never quantify what a library does — it’s the long term thing of giving young people support and knowledge and acknowledging that they exist. That has a huge effect on their education and their future job prospects, it’s crazy to shut them down.”

Mr Levitt compared closing the libraries to closing the Octagon theatre.

He said: “I have always been interested in people.

Theatres don’t exist in isolation any more than the libraries do — the ripples from both go out a long way and have a huge effect on people’s lives.”

Bolton Council’s full executive approved the closure of five libraries — Astley Bridge, Heaton, Oxford Grove, Highfield and Castle Hill — last Wednesday. The decision was discussed at last night’s adult services scrutiny committee and will now go to a final vote at full council tomorrow.

Neighbourhood collections will replace the libraries, saving the council £400,000 over the next two years as part of wider £60 million budget cuts, enforced by a reduction in central Government funding.

Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Cliff Morris, says the closures have been “forced by central Government cuts.”

He added: “We have to find £60 million savings and no service has been exempt. We will still have a comprehensive network of 10 libraries.”

The Save Bolton Libraries Campaign, which organised the protest, is considering whether to force a judicial review, but said this would cost £30,000 — money it does not have.