CAMPAIGNERS have written to a top Government minister asking him to stop five Bolton libraries from closing.

Save Bolton Libraries Campaign has submitted a weighty dossier of evidence to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt urging him to intervene in the town's library closure row.

Campaigners say the proposals put forward by Bolton Council are based on inadequate consultation and impact assessment procedures.

The closure of five out of 15 of the borough’s libraries will produce a service which will not meet the council’s legal duty under the 1964 Museums and Libraries Act to provide “a comprehensive and efficient service for all who wish to use it”, the dossier claims.

Chairman of the campaign Tom Hanley said: “Implementation of the proposals will create substantial problems with regard to accessibility across the library network. It will bear particularly harshly upon vulnerable library users, such as children and families, older and disabled people, and people on low incomes.

“The council has failed to have adequate regard to the high levels of deprivation within the borough, particu- larly within the catchment areas of the Castle Hill and Oxford Grove branches, both of which are down to close.”

Astley Bridge, Castle Hill, Oxford Grove, Heaton and Highfield libraries are all due to close in the New Year, to be replaced by neighbourhood collections.

The closures come as the council strives to save £400,000 from libraries as part of wider £60 million budget cuts over two years, enforced by a reduction in central Government funding.

Campaign Treasurer Geoffrey Dron, who has taken a leading role in compiling the dossier, added: “We acknowledge that the council is operating under substantial financial constraints but believe that other proposals could enable it to deliver a service which meets its legal duties.

“We hope the Culture Secretary will heed our request.”

A council spokesman said: “We are aware that Save Bolton Libraries Campaign has submitted a request for intervention by the Secretary of State and shall await the outcome with interest.

“We remain confident that the way we have conducted the library service review has been thorough and transparent and that our actions comply with the Public Libraries Act.

“We have been in constant contact with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport throughout our review and kept them up to date with our progress.”