COUNCIL bosses are determined to 'preserve and enhance' library services despite the 'very challenging' austerity measures imposed on the borough which have put them under threat.

Council chief executive Steven Broomhead and Cllr Tony Higgins, executive board member for leisure, community and culture, were quizzed over library services at the Town Hall last Friday, February 17.

Campaigners cautiously welcomed LiveWire's recommendations, especially the decision to scrap plans to move central library to Golden Square.

But despite criticism over previous proposals, Cllr Higgins (LAB – Fairfield and Howley) insists he would not have done anything differently.

He said: "I think a lot of the hard work has been done through the consultation.

"This needed 100 per cent of my attention and rightfully so as it deserved it.

"I don't believe I would have done anything different.

"The idea of lending lockers, in principle, as an addition to the service, is very good.

"But lending lockers to replace libraries obviously did not go down well and that would never have been our intention.

"The campaigners have done a marvellous job and provided a lot of information and support."

Mr Broomhead will be chairing the working group set up to look at the issues faced, with findings expected to be reported to the executive board in autumn.

He said: "It has been very good to see the passion from people over libraries, I wish people were as passionate about other some things in the town too.

"People showed their commitment and made their voices heard.

"Libraries are important places for literacy and enjoyment.

"Through the working group we will look at how ideas around community spaces can develop even further, while at the same time preserving and enhancing the importance of literacy and learning in these places.

"In terms of cuts, it is a difficult situation in Warrington, and will be certainly at least for the next three to four years.

"We’ve had £92 million cut since 2010.

"The reason we are having to close some of our libraries is because of the austerity measures the Government has imposed on the council.

"We are doing our best to grow way our way out of this by enterprising and finding different sources of income but it has been very challenging for the council and elected members.

"The working group has a difficult agenda ahead of it – we have to look at it business case by business case for each of the recommendations.

"I think the public is beginning to realise the demand pressures on the council, people are becoming more realistic on the level of service expected."

The working group, which is due to meet in public every three to four weeks, is expected to have at least one library campaigner on it.