Gloucestershire Council 'committed to library plan'

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Gloucestershire County Council has said it is still committed to the idea of community groups running libraries.

The council's closure plans for 10 libraries have been reversed after the proposals were judged to be unlawful at the High Court in London on Wednesday.

The authority said extra research would now be done into how closures could affect vulnerable people.

Council chief Peter Bungard said the judgement had shown that community-run libraries were perfectly legitimate.

"We had a fantastic response from the community on all 10 libraries that we were asking them to run," said Mr Bungard.

"We have had some brilliant offers, which in all honesty could be better services that we could ever afford to run, and I really do want those community groups to stay around."

'Metaphorical gun'

Campaigner John Holland, who is a member of Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries group, said community libraries could be run well, but not in the way that was currently being proposed.

He said the "so-called enthusiasm" from community groups was not a reality, because they had a "metaphorical gun held to their heads" to either run their own library or lose it.

The Conservative-run council needs to save £114m from its budget over the next four years.

The leader of the council, Mark Hawthorne, said there was now a £2m "gaping hole" in the budget which was his number one priority.

"We do need to come up with a plan to deliver these savings because I am not willing to make those cuts in social services.

"Some people might disagree with me and think that I should be cutting social services to protect libraries but I don't think that is right and I am willing to stand by that."

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