Residents are not being properly consulted on the closure of Heathfield library, it has been claimed.

The 50-year-old library is set to close in March 2011 to make way for the new Whitton health centre which will be built on the corner of Percy Road and Hospital Bridge Road.

Although a temporary library was planned for Heathfield Infant and Junior School at a cost of £400,000, Richmond Council is now proposing to scrap the idea as it tries to claw back £351,000 in savings from its library budget.

Councillor Stephen Knight, leader of the opposition, has hit out at the council claiming despite the promise made by deputy leader Geoffrey Samuel at a cabinet meeting last month to consult on the library’s future, this has not happened.

Instead residents are left having to make their feelings known about Heathfield’s future through a questionnaire launched by the council, asking people’s general views about library services in the borough.

Coun Knight said: “Despite their promises, what we have seen so far suggests that the Conservatives have no intention of consulting library users on their plan to close Heathfield library.

“To close the library without a proper consultation with users would be a total betrayal of their promise to consult.”

Residents and pupils also hit out at the proposal to get rid of the library.

Residents and pupils also hit out at the proposal to get rid of the library. It was revealed this week the library had more school visits last year than any of the borough’s 13 libraries.

Heathfield resident Phil Tursci said: “Heathfield needs a library for the community and to take it away you take away community development.

“Heathfield school needs this, the fire brigade could use it for their community fire safety and home fire safety visits, the police could use it for a base and community safety surgeries and the school bus could relocate to this venue allowing the young people of Heathfield somewhere warm to go.”

Councillor Pamela Fleming, strategic cabinet member for community development, said a consultation on the closure of the library was not needed as the decision had already been made, but she would be hoping to hold a public meeting at the library in the new year.

She said: “We couldn’t really consult on the closure because it’s a given. Everyone knows about that [its closure].

“This is the sort of time when we have to make all sorts of difficult spending decisions.

“Spending £400,000 on a temporary demountable is questionable.

“We’ve got to look at providing services in the most effective way.”

She added it was a possibility part of the £400,000 could be spent on improving Whitton library to create a “better provision” for Whitton and Heathfield residents.