1. ITV Report

Campaign as council plans to cut 75% of its libraries

Credit: ITV News

Campaigners in Wiltshire describe it as the biggest cut to library services in the country. Swindon Borough Council says it wants to close 11 of its 15 libraries to save money.

Number of libraries in Swindon at present
Proposed number of libraries in Swindon

Swindon Borough Council says it needs to focus its budget on looking after elderly and vulnerable people.

We currently spend £2.6 million. We have budgeted to get down to £1.1 million.

We are very cognisant that we have to maintain sets of professional librarians. We need to maintain a network which is accessible as possible.

And we also need to work with our partners in the community because there are a big number of people out there who are very keen to put their own time in.

– Cllr Mary Martin, Swindon Borough Council
Park Library user checking out her books Credit: ITV News

But library users in the town are furious and say they will now fight to keep them open.

Park Library in Swindon is one of the 11 due to close. It isn't just about borrowing books but provides Internet access, photocopying, audiobooks and even a knitting circle, which for some people in the community is their only activity.

Sara Slack's been using the library for half a century - now she's fighting to keep it open.

Many other councils have looked to close libraries, but campaigners say by proposing to cut 75% - Swindon is going further than any other.

They have begun a petition in a bid to try to save them - and believe they have a case.

They have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. And that includes making a library service accessible to all residents of the borough.

The current plan sees libraries not present in the eastern and southern parts of the town so I do question how it's possible that they're fulfilling their statutory duty.

– Sarah Church, Chair, 'Save Swindon's Libraries'