I WRITE this as an open letter to Tony Johnson, leader of Herefordshire Council.

Hereford Library has been closed for two weeks and is likely to remain so for at least another 10 weeks.

Around 45% of the people of the county have been deprived of their library services as a result. The whole county has been deprived of the benefits of their central library.

This situation demands the speediest possible measures for its amelioration. We cannot leave these people without access to the many services provided by the Broad Street library.

Whatever may or may not be happening to the building, the council has an urgent duty to provide alternative arrangements for public access to the books and other educational material presently unavailable in the locked and barred building.

Library workers must know where they have disturbed the asbestos.

Those places should be sealed off temporarily while enough books and materials are removed to an alternative site, where an emergency lending and usage facility could be set up.

If books cannot be moved from Broad Street, there is stock available in other libraries in the county.

As a matter of urgency, the main auditorium at the Shirehall should be considered for setting up this temporary library.

There is already a long tradition of using this building to accommodate other library functions.

The people need the council leader to act promptly and decisively in this emergency.