THE fight for 20 Dorset libraries will continue after an influential committee demanded a closer look at closure plans.

The Community Overview Committee has referred back to a policy development panel proposals to withdraw funding from over half of Dorset County Council’s libraries.

County councillor, Fred Drane, who will sit on the panel to consider solutions, said none of the libraries on the closure list was safe.

“People have to keep sending in letters to the council, keep their petitions coming in, and come up with solutions to make their library viable for the future.

“It can no longer be ‘just’ a library,” he warned.

Panellists will consider views from a recent meeting of the Community Overview Committee at which the Friends of Dorset Libraries vowed to fight closure plans.

Its findings will go out to public consultation in the spring, before a meeting of all councillors has the final say in the summer.

DCC needs to find £54.9 million savings over the next three years, and around £800,000 is earmarked to come from the library service by 2012.

Some savings can be made by reducing the service’s book fund, but more wide-ranging changes have been put forward to find the bulk of the money.

County Hall book bosses say 14 of the existing 34-strong library network account for 80 per cent of all library visits and 78 per cent of active members.

They hope communities will find other uses for the 20 threatened buildings or use them to run an independent library service.

Cllr Hilary Cox, the council’s community services chief, said she was determined to provide an “excellent core service” accessible to all.

“Dorset is currently among the best served county areas in England in terms of libraries per 1,000 population, but unfortunately, the existing network is no longer affordable,” she said.


• The 20 libraries earmarked for closure include: Colehill, Corfe Castle, Corfe Mullen, Lytchett Matravers, Stalbridge, Sturmin-ster Newton, Upton, West Moors, Wool.

• The 14 libraries earmarked for continued funding include: Blandford, Christchurch, Fern-down, Gillingham, Highcliffe, Shaftesbury, Swanage, Wim-borne, Verwood and Wareham