Campaigners have welcomed a U-turn by Surrey County Council to scrap plans for volunteers to take over nine libraries across Surrey.

Leader of Surrey County Council, Councillor David Hodge, made the announcement today, Tuesday, November 29, to end ‘phase two’ of the council’s plans for community led libraries which could have seen a further nine libraries turned over to volunteers.

Plans to bring volunteers in to run the initial 10 libraries, including Ewell Court, Stoneleigh and Tattenhams, will still go ahead.

But speaking at a meeting of the cabinet, Coun Hodge also gave a ‘guarantee’ that an experienced member of the council’s library team would be present in all community-led libraries for at least 20 per cent of their opening hours.

Councillor John Orrick, the Liberal Democrat communities’ spokesperson on Surrey County Council, said: “Liberal Democrats have consistently argued for many years that all of Surrey’s libraries should remain open.

“We have argued against two tiers of library, with no second class libraries, and we want professionals at the heart of Surrey's library network.

“The Conservative County Council has effectively admitted by their U-turn on the plans for the second tranche of libraries that the idea is disastrous, they should go further and announce that the whole plan is going to be scrapped.

“Throwing the 10 threatened libraries a crumb from the table of one member of staff for one fifth of their opening hours will do little to remove fears of a downgraded service and eventual closure.”

The council will continue to run 42 of 52 county libraries with professional staff.