A NEW group has formed to guide the future of a community library after the original campaign group set up to save the facility stood down.

The new Friends of Cockerton Library will work with library service managers at Darlington Borough Council to look at new ways of using the facility, which is set to have its opening hours reduced by more than half.

The original Friends of Cockerton Library group was formed two months ago to lobby the council against proposals to close the library amid budget cuts.

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The campaign, which included a petition of almost 3,000 signatures, a Facebook group and website, led to council bosses making a u-turn last month and voting to keep the library open, with reduced hours.

After its success the original group decided to retire and was replaced by a group of seven local people at a public meeting last night, where they pledged to work with the council, schools and community groups to ensure that the library remains a well-used facility.

Lynne Litchfield, libraries manager at Darlington Borough Council, attended the meeting and confirmed that employment law would make it illegal to allow volunteers to take over the duties of librarians who have been made redundant.

Instead, the building will operate as a library during its official opening hours, but used as a community centre or meeting place for small groups to rent during the hours when it is ‘shut’, something that could be organised by volunteers.

Councillor Bob Carson, ward member for Pierremont, said: “The decisions on what the future holds for Cockerton Library has to be made by the committee who can sift through all the proposals for what can be done and report back to the community.

“The Friends group was originally set up as a protest group but it has to change now, and becomes a group that supports library services across the town, in particular in Cockerton.”

The new Friends group would like to hear from anyone who is interested in becoming a member, but could not attend the meeting.

Visit friendsofcockertonlibrary.btck.co.uk for more information.