Climbdown over future of libraries

Campaigners fighting to save closure-threatened libraries in Moorends and Stainforth have scored a victory after council bosses gave them a reprieve.

The authority planned to restructure its library service to save up to £1.3 million a year after its ruling cabinet backed the plans.

However, mayor Peter Davies has decided to use cash reserves to fund the service for another 12 months following pressure from councillors and the public.

Council watchdogs called in the decision to close libraries at an overview and scrutiny commission meeting last Friday.

More than 14,000 signatures had been gathered by campaign group Save Doncaster’s Libraries before the meeting.

At the meeting elected Mr Davies faced a number of questions from concerned councillors.

Questions were asked about removing libraries from deprived areas, whether libraries could be run on a voluntary basis and whether councillors and the public had been consulted enough.

Coun Kevin Rodgers told the committee they were “cuts too far and too fast” which would affect the most vulnerable communities.

Mr Davies said he did not want to give a “any knee jerk reactions” to questions asked by councillors and members of the public at the meeting.

But he added: “I am instructed to get £80 million pounds out of council spending over four years and that is the background to this particular state of affairs that we find ourselves in.

“We have 26 libraries which is a very high number for a borough of this size and we cannot maintain them to the standard we would like to see.”

Other options such as voluntary run libraries, mobile libraries and virtual libraries where books would be posted were being considered before the decision.

Mr Davies said a careful approach had been taken to the review and he repeated that while he was mayor none of the 12 libraries unaffected by the proposed cuts would close.

He said: “I regard the people as being more important and the people like me are merely servants of the people.”

Libraries campaigner Lauren Smith warned protesters not to “get too excited yet,” and said campaigners needed to ensure what happens next was done “properly.”