TOWN councils have come out fighting to save three Ryedale libraries.

As part of its spending cuts, North Yorkshire County Council says several libraries could close and they are seeking the views of local councils and the public.

Among those earmarked are Norton, Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside, and now their town councils are urging residents to send letters supporting the libraries to County Hall at Northallerton, before the consultation finishes at the end of February.

Kirkbymoorside’s town mayor Coun Gaynor de Barr said: “The library is a vital lifeline for many people not just those living in the town, but in many villages in the area. It is very much valued by people of all ages, and we are asking people to write letters of support, outlining its value to our community.”

The library only opened in Church House two years ago, when the building was converted into a community meeting centre, and the previous library in Church Street, was closed.

In Helmsley where the branch was named North Yorkshire’s library of the year just a few months ago, the council has given unanimous support to its retention.

Town clerk Dinah Farley said: “We are asking people to fill in the county council’s consultation forms or go online to put their case.”

She added: “Without a library, people in the Helmsley area will have a long journey to their nearest library which could be Pickering or Thirsk.”

Norton town councillors have also expressed strong concerns over the loss of the mobile library service.

Coun Judith Denniss, a volunteer with the service, said people they visited relied on the monthly or fortnightly visits.

She said: “It would be a great loss if the service was to go. We go out to people who are unable to get to a library due to age or disability including the residents of Beechwood residential home and Deansfield who really appreciate us bringing them books.”

Coun David Lloyd-Williams questioned why the library in Norton, which has the larger population, was under threat while Malton’s would remain.

He said: “Soon there will be nowhere left to park in Malton whereas here we have a car park at our library.”

The council agreed to write to the chairman of North Yorkshire County Council, the county councillors for Norton and Malton and the head of children and young people’s services.

One solution being put forward by the county authority is that the libraries could be run by volunteers with back up support from full time professional librarians employed by NYCC.

Derek Law, corporate director of adult and community services, said: “We have looked at what we can do to be more efficient and have already saved £1 million in the past three years through initiatives such as staffing changes, a better book-purchasing deal and the introduction of new technology.

“The fact is that savings of the kind that are now required simply cannot be made through efficiencies.”