NEW membership options introduced by LiveWire, which mean residents have to sign up for leisure facilities when they apply for a library card, have left protestors angry.

LiveWire, which runs both libraries and gyms, has replaced their membership scheme with three new options – starter, saver and select.

To join a library, people must sign up for the free ‘starter’ package which gives them a dual libraries and leisure card.

The card also includes a three day gym trial and other offers.

But residents were furious, claiming that LiveWire is merging leisure centres with libraries as new members have to nominate a leisure centre as their ‘home’ site.

They are feared that new members will have to fill out a complex membership form and that people could be asked to hand over their credit card details to get a library card.

One member of the Save Warrington’s Libraries Facebook group said: “If I wanted to join a gym I would go to a gym, on the other hand if I wanted to join a library that is where I would go. They just don’t sit right under the same umbrella, they are totally different things.”

Another said: “One of the unique things about a library is that it is a safe space where all people are welcome and there is no pressure to do, buy or take part in anything.”

But a spokesman for LiveWire said the new membership options were introduced to make things easier for residents.

She said: “Our new memberships were introduced to offer integrated packages which break down barriers and make it easier for members to access all the services that LiveWire offer with just one membership card.

“The new registration process has been streamlined so members no longer have to complete two separate processes to access both leisure and library services and all new members will now have automatic access to both the library and leisure sites.

“The packages were introduced following customer and staff feedback, which told us that the previous registration process was disjointed and time-consuming.

“We hope that by giving all members of LiveWire automatic access to library services it will encourage more people to use libraries and access reading and learning resources to improve their health and wellbeing.”

She also emphasized that new members do not need to give LiveWire their credit card information to join the library and staff will be available to help people complete the forms.

The company is updating its website so new members can also nominate a library as their ‘home’ and they are able to pick up their membership card from any LiveWire venue including libraries.