TOWN Hall chiefs have been accused of keeping secret a decision on Bolton’s under-threat libraries.

The future of the facilities will be discussed, in public, at Bolton Council’s decision- making Executive on Thursday.

Normally, reports to be considered in the public part of the meeting are published seven days before it is held.

But council bosses have decided not to make them available until the day of the meeting, claiming they want to tell library staff first.

Campaigners and opposition politicians have reacted furiously, saying they have been denied the chance to fully consider the decision. More than 15,000 people have signed a petition against the closures of any of Bolton’s libraries.

Cllr John Walsh, leader of the Conservative group, said: “This to us looks like a cover-up. Not since the Market Hall (when the decision was made to convert it into the Market Place shopping centre) has there been a decision which has attracted such strong public interest.

“We want to have an open debate but we cannot do at this stage because of the actions of the council.”

David Wilkinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, added: “We have had upwards of 15,000 people take an active interest in this yet the council wants to keep it secret until the last minute.”

Council leader Cllr Cliff Morris said: “We have to have time to brief staff which is why the report is confidential until Thursday morning when we speak to them.”

Library campaigners said they were frustrated they would have to wait until the day of the meeting to find out the future of the library service.

Ian McHugh, secretary of the Save Bolton Libraries Campaign, said: “Clearly it is frustrating for all concerned the report is not being made available.

“When it is we will pore over every detail but I guess that keeping the document private is just postponing that moment.”

The reorganisation is being proposed as part of Bolton Council’s plans to save £60 million over the next two years. The library service shake-up could potentially save £500,000. Central Library in Le Mans Crescent, as well as Farnworth, Westhoughton, Horwich, Blackrod and Little Lever libraries, are all safe. But Astley Bridge, Breightmet, Bromley Cross, Castle Hill in Tonge Moor, Harwood, Heaton, High Street in Daubhill, Highfield (Orchards) in Farnworth and Oxford Grove in Halliwell face an uncertain future under the proposals.