THE Government has been asked to intervene in contentious plans to cut and change Darlington’s library services.

Darlington-born Conservative politician Peter Cuthbertson has written to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport requesting a call in of the long-opposed proposals.

If approved later this month, Darlington Borough Council’s plans would see the town’s mobile library closed, Cockerton Library handed to volunteers to run and Crown Street Library closed, with the majority of its resources moved to the nearby Dolphin Centre.

Mr Cuthbertson, once a parliamentary candidate for Darlington, said the proposals would represent a failure to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service and accused the council of acting in a “careless or unreasonable way”.

In his letter to MP Karen Bradley, Mr Cuthbertson also highlighted the amount Darlington Borough Council spends on executive pay and compared it with its spend on library services.

Mr Cuthbertson, currently councillor for Westminster, said Darlington Borough Council consistently ranked below over 100 local authorities in spending per resident on library services and among the highest in its spend on executive salary.

In response, Cllr Nick Wallis pointed out several inaccuracies in Mr Cuthbertson’s correspondence with Karen Bradley and described the request for a call-in as “political game playing”.

Cllr Wallis refuted Mr Cuthbertson’s claims that the town’s two final libraries will be closed, that a restrictive covenant existed in relation to the future use of Crown Street Library and that there had been a successful legal challenge lodged against the council.

The council had delayed their plans after facing the threat of a legal challenge and recently said research proved no such covenant exists in relation to the historic library.

If plans are approved, the town will still have two libraries, one at the Dolphin Centre and the other at the volunteer-led Cockerton Library.

A decisive vote on the future of Darlington’s library services will take place at a meeting of the council on Tuesday, February 28.

The meeting will be held at the town hall from 6pm. Members of the public are welcome.