THE voluntary sector is refusing to co-operate with council plans to replace library staff with unpaid workers.

The move is being proposed as part of the authority’s £16m package of budget cuts and will see employees at Old Trafford and Hale libraries have their jobs filled by volunteers.

An open letter from Old Trafford Community Liaison Group (OTCLG) has been sent to councillors - supported by a 160 strong petition from residents.

The letter describes the library as “an invaluable resource” for the community and it continues: “The council’s own figures show more than 80,000 annual visits, making it one of the best used libraries in the borough, and which is run at a lower cost per visit than most others. As one of the most economically deprived wards in Trafford, the need for library services is greater than most. A report from the National Literacy Trust this month found that one third of British schoolchildren have no books at home, with children in most deprived areas most likely to be affected.”

The letter also states a refusal from the borough’s voluntary groups and community leaders to co-operate with council plans to change the face of Old Trafford Library and pays tribute to the vital role played by the voluntary sectorr in community life.

Deputy leader Cllr Alex Williams said: "The Council's priority is to keep libraries open and accessible for our residents. Volunteers have been running libraries in other authorities including Hackney and Buckinghamshire since 2007. In our proposals the Council would support the volunteers by buying and maintaining the stock, maintaining the buildings and providing training to the groups that took on responsibility for the running of the library.”

Twitter page An account has been set up on Twitter in opposition to the cuts proposed at Old Trafford Library.

The page, called Hands Off OT Library, currently has 50 followers, including Stretford and Urmston MP Kate Green and Labour councillors Mike Cordingley and Andrew Western.

The account states: “Trafford Council has announced plans to replace paid staff at Old Trafford Library with unpaid volunteers. We plan to stop them.”

Tweets so far have said: AllyFogg: “Very proud to have put my name to this, and very proud of the community around me.”

ggnewed: “Volunteers may have a role to play in libraries, but not to the extent that big chunks of library services are run on a voluntary basis.”