Oxford

Oxfordshire County Council says axed libraries may stay open

Colin Dexter
Image caption Colin Dexter was pleased about proposals to save Summertown Library

Seven libraries in Oxfordshire that were set to close due to funding cuts will remain open under new plans.

Oxfordshire County Council now intends to keep Summertown, Headington, Littlemore, Blackbird Leys, Neithrop, Berinsfield and Botley libraries open.

Another five will be run by council staff supported by volunteers.

Councillor Keith Mitchell said the council met communities half-way. Author Colin Dexter, who campaigned against the cuts, welcomed the news.

The five new libraries to be staffed mainly by volunteers are Burford, Goring, Hook Norton, Watlington and Wychwood.

They join Adderbury, Bampton, Benson, Charlbury, Deddington, Kennington, North Leigh, Old Marston, Sonning Common, Stonesfield and Woodcote where the staffing emphasis will shift from county council staff to volunteers over a three-year period.

"However, support from county council employed operational and professional librarians would continue," a spokesman added.

Under the new proposals 22 libraries will be fully staffed.

A further five - Chinnor, Faringdon, Grove, Wheatley and Woodstock - will be run by council staff but with volunteers.

Mr Mitchell added: "Let me be clear, we enter this consultation from a starting point of keeping all 43 libraries open despite the fact that there is less money to spend.

"Local communities can help us to achieve that outcome."

Mr Dexter, who wrote the Inspector Morse novels, said he had been made honorary president of the movement to save Summertown library.

He said: "I think this is obviously very fine news.

"This is an area in which I'm sure that everybody who was very upset about the closure of the library would say this is exactly what we want to talk about.

"We are ready to be met with and are more than happy to collaborate.

"The whole literary tradition of Oxford is so enormously great and powerful. It's our heritage in this beautiful city of ours."

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