Irvine Welsh calls to save Newtongrange library

Naomi Knight and fellow residents at the library. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Naomi Knight and fellow residents at the library. Picture: Gordon Fraser
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Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh has backed a major community campaign to save a closure-threatened library.

Proposals to demolish Newtongrange Library, along with the town’s swimming pool, sports centre and community learning centre, have been announced by Midlothian Council.

As part of the plans to rebuild Newbattle Community School, the facilities would be rehoused at a community hub in the village of Easthouses, two miles away. Opponents to the plans – which would also lead to the closure of libraries and leisure centres in Gorebridge and Mayfield – have likened them to the mine closures in the 1980s.

Edinburgh-born Welsh, who divides his time between homes in Chicago and Miami, is one of 2400 people, including fellow author Janice Galloway, to sign up to a petition calling for the library to be saved.

Campaigners say more than half the village’s residents, including local campaigner Naomi Knight, have supported it.

Julie Read, who started the petition, said: “To get support from someone as high profile as Irvine Welsh is fantastic. I know that he now lives abroad but it is clear he’s still in touch with his roots.”

Ms Read said the closures would have a huge impact. She said: “It’s not that we don’t support the building of the new school. But it’s the building of this hub which will lead to the closure of facilities including the library. I think people feel it took a long time for Newtongrange to recover after the 1980s when the mines were closed.

“Newtongrange has come a long way since then – in part due to these facilities.”

Others who have signed the petition are Christine Graham MSP, Jim Hume MSP, David Hamilton MP and David Martin MEP.

Janice Galloway, who wrote the award-winning book The Trick is to Keep Breathing, said: “Libraries are hearts of towns and villages and the only place left for real autodidacts to find information on foot rather than via expensive ­technology.”

A Midlothian Council spokesman said: “No decisions have been taken on the future of facilities in the area served by Newbattle 
Community School.

“We had good discussions with people from Newtongrange and elsewhere on Monday where we listened to the views of around 270 people and have also had a number of smaller meetings with community organisations in recent weeks and this will continue.”

The council will consider a report on June 25.

dawn.morrison@edinburghnews.com