Plans to overhaul Surrey libraries and cut costs agreed

Councillors have agreed plans to overhaul library services in Surrey that will see nine facilities lose paid staff to cut costs.

The Conservative-run county council's cabinet members agreed to devolve responsibilities at the libraries to help save up to £381,000 a year.

Opposition councillors have criticised the plans saying they will force people to volunteer or lose their libraries.

Council leaders said the decision meant they could keep all 52 facilities open.

Denise Saliagopoulos, cabinet member for community services, said: "Today's decision means we are a step closer to fulfilling our aim of keeping all 52 of Surrey's libraries open, while focusing resources and making best use of new technologies such as e-books.

"We've been greatly encouraged by the response we've had to the plans to give people the freedom to tailor their local library to meet local needs."

'Won't listen'

Campaigner Lee Godfrey, who was at the meeting at which the plan was approved, said: "We are very disappointed.

"The way that they conducted the meeting just characterises their whole approach throughout the libraries closures programme in that they just won't listen."

From April 2012 the council will continue to provide buildings, stock, IT equipment and other services but communities will take over the day-to-day running of the 10 branches.

The libraries affected by the decision are: Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water and Warlingham.

The county council said the 10 branches accounted for just 7% of library visits across Surrey.

It expects the changes to save £200,000 in the first year and then £381,000 annually.

The future of nine other libraries will be looked at once the initial 10 facilities have been run by community groups for at least 12 months.

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