THE leaders of a council which has abandoned a plan to relocate its main library have agreed to work alongside campaigners to shape the future of the service and its historic premises.

Just months after Darlington Borough Council battled with the Friends of Darlington Libraries in a High Court action the groups have pledged to cooperate to create initial proposals for the Crown Street building.

Members of the campaign group told a meeting of the authority they had carried out extensive research into schemes to bolster library services across the country and wanted to share their conclusions.

They questioned whether the council would apply for grants from bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England to improve the premises and service.

Campaigner Gemma Dunn told the council’s leaders she hoped “we could start to see some real enthusiasm now amongst yourselves for the potential opportunity that Crown Street and the wider library service offers our town”.

She also appealed for the council to explore the potential for corporate sponsorship in funding a revived mobile library service.

The council’s leisure boss, Councillor Nick Wallis, said he is delighted campaigners want to remain involved in shaping the library’s future and that he would be very interested hear their views.

He said: “All too often in experience from this authority and other authorities there can be big campaigns about potential difficult changes that local authorities are having to make. Councils may agree to make those changes and then the campaign group disappears.”

The authority’s leader, Councillor Stephen Harker said meetings would be held with various user groups to get their ideas and that members of the Friends group could “within reason” be involved in the preparation of the consultation detail.

He added there were a number of “less obvious” groups the council needed to consult with, such as those who do not use the library.

When pressed over the impact of the mobile library service closure in September 2016, Cllr Harker said the impact had been assessed ahead of the move and the authority had provided an alternative service for schools and housebound residents.