Care needed over libraries

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THE prospect of closing libraries is never an appealing one.

The right to read is absolute and if you cannot afford to buy the material, it should be available to you to lend.

But the advent of the internet has made access to reading material much less clear cut.

The classics are free to read online so the need to go to the library has become less. And if people stop using the library, they cannot really complain when the building is closed.

Especially at a time when the council has to save millions of pounds and is faced with a stark choice of funding social services or keeping libraries open.

While we reluctantly accept the case for closing libraries, a word of caution.

Each decision must be made with absolute transparency and if there is the prospect of the community stepping in to save a library, they should be given every encouragement.

This is an issue which calls for sensitivity and sensibility – we hope both prevail.

A time for hard budget decisions

THERE will be an emotional outpouring of anger at the proposal on the table to consider closing Don Valley Stadium.

This was the athletics ground that gave us Olympic champion Jess Ennis.

She still uses the venue for her outdoor training – and the news that it could close was greeted with dismay by her coach Tony Minichiello.

The Don Valley Stadium is also one of the venues which we are still paying for as a result of the World Student Games 22 years ago – a financial millstone that is hanging around our necks.

But these are extraordinary times we find ourselves in and the council is having to make some impossibly difficult budgetary decisions.

The Don Valley Stadium just does not appear to stack up financially. The last major sporting occasion it hosted was five years ago and despite lobbying athletics organisations, it simply does not compete with other venues.

Meanwhile, it is a cost to the council. It benefits from a £700,000 subsidy, meaning every person who walks through the gates costs £5.

It needs a substantial upgrade and the running costs are around £100,000 a year.

Officers have drawn up a report which proposes closing the stadium and potentially bringing the nearby Woodbourn Road athletics back out of mothballs.

We need to get beyond the emotion and look at the financial figures. And if that means taking a difficult decision, then so be it.