PEOPLE power has saved Ensbury Park Library after an eight-month battle to keep it open.

The surprise announcement from Bournemouth council came after two of its own members had blasted the consultation process as “biased”, while campaigners accumulated 400 signatures objecting to the closure.

This reaction was prompted by the authority’s early admission that – despite presenting various possible options for the Columbia Road site – relocating the library to the Bournemouth Learning Centre was always its preference.

The campaign was led by residents Geoff Budden and Keith Watson who heavily scrutinised the council’s proposals at several public meetings since first being recommended in November last year.

“The library is so important to the community where it is,” Mr Watson told the Echo after hearing of the library's reprieve.

“We are grateful to the council for listening to the users of the library.

“But our support of the library doesn’t end just because it has been confirmed it is staying where it is, we want to go on and support it more and launch a group to keep it going.”

Pressure had been mounting on civic chiefs after ward councillors Jackie Edwards and Stephen Bartlett attacked the consultation at a meeting in April.

Cllr Bartlett claimed it displayed a “lack of objectivity” to put so much emphasis on just one option, while Cllr Edwards said other possibilities had been “ignored”.

Leisure and arts portfolio holder Cllr Lawrence Williams said: “Following strong support from the community to retaining Ensbury Park Library in its current location, we have listened to the arguments put forward and decided not to impose the proposed and permanent relocation.

“The decision follows careful consideration of all the options and the views expressed and we are grateful to all those who took part in the consultation.

“The council will continue to review all aspects of its service delivery in the light of increasing reductions in public funding and proposed local government re-organisation and further options for making future savings within the library service are being explored.”