Volumes of protest in Leeds village library battle

Scores of villagers turned out to save their local library and demonstrate they mean business in their David and Goliath battle with Leeds City Council.

More than 100 Methley residents young and old emptied shelves at the pocket size community hub taking out 20 books each to protest at Council cuts which may result in a mobile replacement.

The protest spoke volumes about villagers' determination to save the service started in one room of the "Stute" - the Miners Welfare Institute - on Savile Road in 1948.

They are convinced their library, which later moved to a redundant Prisoner of War hut on Main Street before the current purpose-built bungalow-like building was erected by Rothwell Council in 1964, must be saved.

The Methley branch is one of 20 out of 53 libraries Leeds City Council proposes to close.

For Alma Townend of the Friends of Methley Library and Eileen Roberts - a library assistant back in its "Stute" days - the library is more than a place to borrow books it is a "social lifeline for all ages." Apart from adults who depend on the library, pupils from Methley primary school use its facilities, said Mrs Townend.

A petition has already been delivered to local Labour councillor James Lewis and Saturday "mass borrow" was the latest salvo in the battle to keep the neat red-brick leaded window library which opens 12 hours over four days.

One issue is the Council excuse taht the library - which residents feel is fine - needs 70,000 spending on it.

Mrs June Fender of Methley and Mickletown Residents Association described the cost as "implausible" and said they were demanding a breakdown of the specification.

"Such a figure would build a new library several times bigger," she said. There was nothing wrong with the current building which is also an internet cafe where the elderly learn to use computers.

Residents also fear the lung of grassland on which the library and a matching storage building used by Methley in Bloom workers and Methley Archivisits stand, may be lost. They claim the tidy grassed square was gifted in trust to villagers and worry it could be sold for development.

Mrs Townend said:"I have been here all week and it is amazing the number of people of all ages using it and really uspet by the news. This is where people can go and meet other people, chat about books and keep in contact.

Husband,Brian, said "There is supposed to be consultation, but the buses for the mobile library have already been bought. Where's that money coming from.?"

Mrs Roberts, who also worked at the current building for 15 years, said :"I am a devastated at the thought of its closure."

Another recent former Methley librarian, Mrs Julia Hodgson said: "It will be sad for the village if this place closes. A mobile library will not fit the bill. My son is at Oxford and got all his books here."

Objectors are to meet Coun Lewis and Council Leisure boss Adam Ogilvie.


Exclusive: Leeds United unveil new club crest