YORKSHIRE icon Alan Bennett took time out after his appearance at Ilkley Literature Festival on Friday to show his support for a campaign to retain a village library.

The playwright, screenwriter, actor and author met with representatives of the Save Our Library Site (SOLS) campaign who are fighting to retain the library in Burley-in-Wharfedale in its current Grange Road site.

Burley-in-Wharfedale Parish Council purchased the freehold of the building last year and with the help of over 50 volunteers has continued to provide a range of services from lending books to the provision of space for meetings.

However, the poor state of the building had led the parish council to put forward a plan to sell the library for development with the proceeds used to redevelop Queen's Hall in the village to include some form of library facilities.

However, this plan is opposed by SOLS and the parish council has now agreed to put plans on hold for six months until fully costed alternatives can be explored.

A spokesperson for SOLS said: "Alan is a great supporter of libraries and has written that libraries should 'be handy and local and shouldn't require an expedition'. The campaigners were delighted to meet one of our most eminent Yorkshire authors and to have his support.

"The people of Burley certainly agree with Alan as demonstrated by a big turnout at the Parish Council meeting on 14th September. The councillors agreed to defer the decision to sell the library building for six months whilst more work is done looking at options to keep both the library and the Queens Hall.

"SOLS had carried out a survey in early September with a leaflet delivered through every door in the village and available online. The survey recognised that keeping the library open for longer might cost a bit more on the precept (paid within Council Tax) and still 551 households (say 1,300 people) voted to retain the library with only eight votes against. Alan Bennett said very clearly: ‘libraries should be funded from our rates’.

"The Parish Council decision to defer is very welcome and SOLS looks forward to working with the councillors to explore a variety of solutions."