Friends group in battle to save Leeds community centre

COMMUNITY FACILITY: Friends of Rawdon Library who have been campaigning to keep it open.
COMMUNITY FACILITY: Friends of Rawdon Library who have been campaigning to keep it open.
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Campaigners are hoping to turn over a new page to secure the future of a Leeds library.

The Friends of Rawdon Library led a determined campaign to stop Leeds City Council from closing the venue and replacing it with a mobile service last year.

Now the team of volunteers have to demonstrate to the authority that the community hub is worth saving for future generations.

The Friends are giving the local community the opportunity to shape the services and activities on offer at Rawdon Library to show it is sustainable.

June Longley from the Friends of Rawdon Library said: “Libraries are changing and we believe Rawdon Library can flourish if it reflects these changes.

“We also see a future for the building as a lively community centre for learning, arts and social activities.”

Dozens of volunteers have already come forward to help run the facility and at least 24 of those have been trained to use the counter.

They have been working alongside local councillors to come up with a range of activities the facility could offer.

They include starting a film club, art classes, a local history group and developing a children’s literature festival.

Clive Woods from the Friends added: “It is a one-off opportunity because if people don’t get behind this now then it will be too late.

“There are a lot of people that live nearby and without community activities and services then everyone will have to travel more to other places. It just makes sense.”

Rawdon Library was on a list of 15 libraries which Leeds City Council was proposing to close and replace with mobile services under a plan expected to save £625,000 a year.

But council bosses have agreed to look at the possibility of Rawdon staying open and being put in the hands of the community under a system known as Community Asset Transfer.

A meeting will be held on Saturday (February 25) to discuss the future of the library and fill in surveys about the proposed activities.