COUNCILLORS in Thornbury have expressed their “disappointment” over the dissolution of a committee representing the public in how the town’s library is run.

The Thornbury Library Users’ Committee, which used to meet three times a year, was told last month by South Gloucestershire Council, which runs the library, that the meeting they were in would be its last.

This comes ahead of the decision on whether the library facilities would be moved from its current site on St Mary’s Street to Turnberrie’s Community Centre, with councillors set to vote on December 4.

Town councillors have reiterated their position on the proposed move, saying they would prefer to see the library remain in the centre of town, supporting the view of many residents they had spoken to who believe it would be less used at Turnberrie’s.

Cllr Benj Emerson, who has served as chairman of the committee since 2002, as well as being the town council’s representative, said he was “disappointed” by South Gloucestershire Council’s decision.

“It is sad they feel it is necessary to take this step,” he said. “We knew they were discussing the format, but it never actually crossed my mind that this would be where they would draw the line.

“The committee provided a useful way to test ideas and get feedback from actual users and was not particularly resource expensive, but South Gloucestershire seem to think it is not the best use of a librarian’s time.

“They say they will speak to more users of the library by holding open days, consultations and other things of that nature.

“But regardless, the users lose a direct regular voice, one of sanity offering an alternative view and that is a real disappointment.”

Meanwhile, Thornbury’s mayor, Cllr Helen Harrison said she felt it was “appalling” that the committee was shut down without consultation,” adding that it is not a democratic way to do things.

She said that if it makes sense for the library to move then that was fine, but the highest priority was the make sure the town did not lose its library services.

An SGC spokesman said: “Members of our library users’ groups have told us they are keen to improve the way these groups operate, to increase participation and to build membership to better reflect their communities.

“We have been working directly with existing members to consider new ways of engaging with the public on library matters.

“This will be in addition to our commitment to wider public consultation on any proposals to make significant changes to library services, as we have done in the past few years. We hope to bring in new arrangements in the New Year as part of our Library Service planning.

“The Library Service annual report is due to be published soon, which includes feedback from our user groups. This will be available in all libraries and online once published.”