LIBRARY lovers are being urged to voice their views if they want their local branch to remain open.

A series of consultation meetings are being held as leisure bosses look at ways of cutting costs in the wake of budget restrictions which will slash £1.1m - 25 per cent - off Wigan's funding for libraries.

Atherton author Bryan Hughes is particularly concerned about what the future holds for his town's library.

"It is well used and the people who use it need to speak up for Atherton Library. It is an asset too valuable to lose. If it closed what would happen to all the stock, all the new computer equipment and would the building be maintained so that it could reopen if there was a financial turnaround?," asked the Stanley Street man.

He is urging readers who value Atherton Library's facilities to attend the public consultation meeting being held on Tuesday, February 8 at the Botanical Gardens Club, Tyldesley Road, Atherton (7pm-9pm).

"We need to attract more attention. Fliers put out by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, who manage the libraries on behalf of Wigan Council, do not attract enough attention. They should be asking people 'Do you wish to lose your library'. And it is vital that those who do appreciate this facility make their feelings known."

Leigh Library, the most popular in the borough, and Wigan Library should be unaffected by the cuts.

The borough’s library services consist of 18 libraries, two mobile libraries and a housebound service operating on an annual £4m budget.

Libraries are situated at: Leigh, Tyldesley, Atherton, Golborne, Hindley, Abram (Community Library), Ashton, Aspull, Beech Hill, Hope Community Library, Ince, Lamberhead Green, Marsh Green, Platt Bridge, Shevington, Standish and Wigan plus Wigan Children's Library.

Pete Gascoigne, WLCT’s Executive Director of Libraries, Heritage and Arts, said: “Consultation will play an important part in any future decisions on the service.

“This reduction in library service budget will mean change and a reduction in libraries but Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust believe that at the end of this difficult process the borough will have a quality 21st century library service.”

Consultations will end on March 31.

Meetings are scheduled for Monday (January 24) at Wigan & Leigh College, Parson's Walk, Wigan; on Wednesday, January 26 at Platt Bridge Community School,Rivington Avenue, Platt Bridge; Tuesday, February 8, Botanical Gardens Association 232, Tyldesley Road, Atherton and Wednesday, February 9 at Leigh Sports Village Stadium, Sale Way, Leigh.