COCKERTON Library could be at risk of closure for the second time in a year, after the leader of the council admitted “it has to be high on the list of cuts”.

One of only two public libraries in Darlington, the Cockerton branch is well used by residents, but has long been considered under threat from budget cuts.

The facility was earmarked for closure last year, but Darlington Borough Council made a u-turn on the decision in the face of public opposition and a petition that gathered more than 3,000 signatures.

A group called Friends of Darlington Libraries was set up to support the library, which now operates under reduced opening hours.

When asked if the library was at risk, Councillor Bill Dixon, leader of the council, said: “Cockerton Library has got to be high on the agenda.

“The situation has not really got any better since last year and the business case does not add up.

“Despite the initial flush of volunteers there are now very few involved in the library. I think they think they won and that was it.

“The tragedy is that there are a lot of books lent from there and in an ideal world we would not close it.

“As well used as the place may be, they need the public to go the extra mile to save it.”

The Friends of Darlington Libraries group no longer meets regularly but Mike Crawley, who was a member of the group, said: “The reason the volunteers have drifted off is that people who are in charge of the libraries in Darlington said no to anything we asked to do.

“If you get rebuffed so many times in the end you don’t even bother to think about it. We wanted to do something like make it into a community centre but they kept twittering on about health and safety and things like that.

“We were not allowed to open it up to other groups, we were not allowed a coffee shop or toilets and we were not able to have volunteers helping out in the library so what else were we to do?

“We suggested two years ago that they hand it over to the community totally but they messed us around. They need to be serious about what they want to do with it.”