Parish councillors debated what the future should look like for North Swindon’s libraries at a parish council meeting this week, having taken over the running of them from the September 1.

With demand for book loans down over a number of years, the question of whether they provide value for money and what services they should provide proved a hot topic at the parish’s Leisure and Amenities Committee.

Derique Montaut, Labour councillor for Liden, Eldene and Park South, expressed concern at an approach which would see libraries kept open at any cost. He said: “It is very easy to say let’s keep everything open, let’s just throw money at it.

“But people don’t read books the way they did in the past.”

Coun John Ballman (Labour, Gorsehill and Pinehurst) said that book loans were only part of the changing range of services that libraries provide.

He said: “We do need to provide, in some areas, the ability to access the internet. That is very important, we can’t ignore it or run away from it.”

Andy Reeves, the Transition Parish Manager, who is working on the handover of assets between Swindon Borough Council and the newly formed parish, said that studies in the area show that although book loans are reducing, computer usage in the libraries is either staying at the same level or increasing.

This point was also highlighted by Coun Des Moffat (Labour, Rodbourne Cheney, and chair of the parish’s Full Council), who said that in Pinehurst, Penhill and Moredon, people need a place to access the internet.

He said: “Most people who are using the service have a computer at home, but they have messed it up or not paid their broadband bills.

“That is why the access to a computer is essential in the poorer areas of Swindon.”

Monitoring of internet access in the area will continue over the next year.