COUNCILLORS have again come under pressure to explain why a £4m plus funding pot cannot be used to preserve a “much loved” library.

Darlington Borough Council revealed in December that there were funds available for investment in services due to “innovative financial investments” and the release of redundant earmarked reserves.

But at a special meeting of the authority council chiefs ignored demands from campaigners to spend some of it on preserving the Crown Street library.

Campaigners have been irritated after the council began promoting how will the future library will look on video screens at the Dolphin Centre, where it is due to move.

Last week the Friends of Darlington Library secured a court date in June which a judge will assess whether the proper process was followed in the lead-up to the closure decision.

Campaigner Sheila Harris said: “The fact that such a large sum has been saved from previous budgeting projections suggests that the original figures were very wide of the mark, that services may have been cut and jobs lost when perhaps there was no need for this to happen.

“According to the council’s own figures, keeping the library in Crown Street would cost £147,000 to run more than a re-located library within the Dolphin Centre.

“At the recent cabinet meeting council leader Bill Dixon stated that the £4.4m [the amount being made available] was a small percentage of the council’s budget.

“We are talking less than £150,000 which is a small percentage of £4.4m. Money can be found for non-essential surveys, videos and the court case.

“Why then does the relatively small amount required to keep our much loved, beautiful Victorian library open at Crown Street remain resolutely non-negotiable?”

Deputy leader Councillor Stephen Harker said the council was standing by its decision, made in March last year, which was based on the view at the time that it was the “right thing to do for the service and there were financial savings to be made”.

Asked why the council wanted to close the library, Cllr Harker, who has responsibility for efficiency and resources, said: “There are two aspects to it, one was to do with financial savings.

“The other point is the use of the library, as is nationally the case, is in decline. The view we had was in relocating it we may be able to improve the usage of the library, particularly by younger people who are using libraries less and less.”