REASSURANCES have been given after fears a town's "vital" library would be closed.

Concern for the future of Millom Library has grown over recent months amid rumours of plans to close the service and demolish the iconic building, but council bosses have vowed no such plans exist.

An email was sent to staff at the library, on St George's Terrace, last week to reiterate Cumbria County Council had no plans to close the facility.

Cllr Deborah Earl, cabinet member for communities, said: "There are no plans to close Millom Library. It continues to be a well-used and well-run facility and one that is important to the local community.

"I would like to place on record my thanks and appreciation to the library staff team that work hard to provide such a valuable community service."

Many residents feared the library would soon be closed after confusion over a recent planning application nearby.

The email, sent to staff and councillors on May 16, urges staff to correct visitors who believe the library will close.

It says: "If and when anyone wants to talk about it, we clearly need to be absolutely adamant and state categorically it is not closing.

"As you know from the Excellence Awards, the service in Millom is recognised as an excellent facility.

"It is vital for the community and has great opportunities for services to be built upon which support the community to an even greater extent than they do now."

The news was welcomed by Cllr Doug Wilson, who highlighted the work of the library in setting up the autism-friendly area which launched earlier this year.

The area includes a range of books, as well as a sensory dark den and lightbox, and welcomes local autism groups every week.

It became Cumbria's first autism-friendly library when it opened in March.

He said: "The library in Millom is not the same as in other places. It is very well used and the staff are brilliant. It is more of a hub than a library.

"In the old days you could not speak but now it is used for the autism groups and other community groups, so it is a well used asset to the town.

"The future of the library is guaranteed and people will be better off using it and talking about the positives of such a great facility."

Cllr Earl said the council were committed to libraries across the county.

She said: "They are about more than books. They are community hubs providing access to a huge range of resources, experiences and learning.

"Like all council services, government cuts have put financial pressure on libraries. The council has made every effort to manage this without affecting the service the public receives.

"This has been successful and Cumbria has avoided the wholesale closures of libraries that have occurred elsewhere in the country."

Cllr Bob Kelly said the fears stemmed from problems with the building.

He said: "The council have promised not to close our library but that does not mean they won't close the building.

"This assurance is definitely welcomed but we realise the county council own the building and it is not currently fit for purpose.

"We love the building because it has got fantastic history and design and it is a great place for Millom."

Cllr Kelly said residents must fight to keep the services they enjoy.

He said: "We would ideally like to keep the library where it is, but we accept improvements are needed to the building itself.

"We are concerned because we want a library in the centre of our town like it is now, and one which offers the fantastic services we currently have.

"We need the library and we must fight for one as good as what we have now."