Dorset libraries campaign group 'considers legal action'

Campaigners against plans to close nine of Dorset's libraries say they might take legal action against the council.

Dorset campaign group Adlib argues that the under-threat libraries could become cheaper to run instead of being closed.

In a similar campaign in Gloucestershire, a judge ruled that its council could not close any libraries while a judicial review takes place.

Dorset County Council is to consider the future of its libraries at a full council meeting on 21 July.

Two options

The Conservative-led council has said it will look at two options for the libraries.

One proposal is that it will keep all 34 of Dorset's libraries open but with a reduction in opening hours and with less money to spend on books.

The council's alternative idea is to close nine libraries with the remaining smaller libraries run by volunteers and community groups.

The county council had originally planned to shut 20 of its 34 sites to save £800,000 by April 2012.

It then invited communities to register an interest to take over responsibility for the libraries themselves, with support from the authority.

The council believes the move would still save the required amount while keeping the facilities open.

Mike Chaney from Adlib, who is a volunteer at the at-risk Puddletown library, said: "The 1964 Libraries and Museum Act says that councils must provide a 'comprehensive' library service, so it all hinges on what 'comprehensive' means.

"Can you close libraries and keep a 'comprehensive' service?"

The council has said it has "listened carefully" to its residents.

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