Storm of protest greets Darfield Library ‘cut’

Dawn Webster (centre) presents her petition to MP Michael Dugher (right) with Darfield councillors and library users looking on.
Dawn Webster (centre) presents her petition to MP Michael Dugher (right) with Darfield councillors and library users looking on.

DEFIANT Darfield villagers have launched a campaign to save their library – with the backing of their MP.

Angry locals packed the Church Street building last Friday to present MP Michael Dugher with a petition of over 1,500 names.

The MP said the strength of feeling from the angry community was evident from the staggering amount of support shown to keep the library open in under just two weeks.

With Barnsley Council due to decide on libraries’ futures next month, Dawn Webster and a friend took to the village’s streets in a pre-emptive strike against cuts.

The 29-year-old mum, from Cover Drive, said: “We don’t have much here in Darfield but I have used the library all my life, with my mum and now with my own little boy. We mums want our children to know the library and to grow up reading and enjoying books.

“There are groups, games, story-telling sessions, Internet access, and it’s a lifeline for many elderly people.

“We are an ever-growing village, yet our facilities grow less and less. We have no bank, now we look set to lose our library.”

Mr Dugher said he understood the difficulties facing Barnsley Council in terms of cuts, but described branch libraries as “an invaluable resource”.

The MP said his own council tax survey had revealed that people in Surrey would see their authority budget INCREASE – as Barnsley faced heavily slashed spending and acute job losses.

Mr Dugher said: “This is outrageous. People here pay a disproportionate price and I will continue campaigning to try and mitigate against the cuts. I have written to David Cameron about this.”

Coun Ron Fisher added that it would be a “tragedy” if the library – “the only focal point in the community” – went.

Darfield councillor Pauline Markham backed Dawn as she launched her petition and said people should stick together in a situation that could 
become “like the miners but maybe even worse”.

Another protester described the campaign as “a massive fight against damage that will only truly be seen 10 years from now”.

The petition was presented to Mr Dugher by Labour council candidate Brian Key, with all three Darfield councillors present.