PLANS to move council services into Prestonpans Library have come under fire, amid claims a 20 per cent drop in the number of users is “mince”.

Prestonpans Community Council met with East Lothian Council officials to discuss plans to close Aldhammer House in the town and spend £93,000 refurbishing the library to accommodate the services.

And there was a personal plea made to save the library by six-year-old Manja Porteus, who attended the meeting with dad Tim, and expressed fears the changes would led to the eventual loss of the service altogether.

Professional storyteller ad Courier columnist Tim said: “My daughter begged me to speak on her behalf. She said please tell them I am scared the library will be gone when I am older.

“If we allow this to happen, are we in a few years time going to find we have lost the library service altogether?”

East Lothian Council is holding a public consultation on its plans to move Aldhammer House staff into the library.

It proposes creating three interview rooms, moving the computer area into a new space and taking away the teenage lending space, merging it into the adult section.

The consultation closes tomorrow (Friday).

The community council has objected to the plans for the library, which was established by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie as part of his programme to bring reading to the people.

It was told that, while the number of visits to Prestonpans Library had remained between just under 42,000 to 46,500 over the last six years, it had dropped dramatically last year to 34,439 – a 19 per cent fall in visits.

However, the figures raised eyebrows among community councillors, who questioned what efforts had been made to establish why there had been a sudden drop in use.

Vice-chairman Martin Whitfield said the plans would endanger the view of the library as a safe and neutral space for the community.

He said: “Libraries are one of the most beautifully neutral places in a community.

“Bringing in some of the council services, particularly in regards to housing, might change people’s views of what the library is.”

Community councillor Calum Miller described the figures for the last year visitors to the library as similar to recent figures used by the Royal Bank of Scotland to justify closing the town’s only bank.

He said: “Much like the library statistics, the justification is complete mince.”

East Lothian Council insisted the library service was working to improve figures.

A spokesperson said: “Reduced attendance at Prestonpans Library is part of a trend that has been identified across the country and not just affecting East Lothian.

“Some of our local libraries, including Tranent, Haddington and Dunbar, have seen visitor numbers more than double in recent years, whilst others have shown a decline.

“The library service has introduced and increased various initiatives to attract people into their local library, including Bookbug sessions for youngsters and author visits.”