PLANS to close or reduce services at the county’s libraries are going back to the drawing board.

Gloucestershire County Council has announced that it will unveil new proposals for the county’s library service in the New Year, which will then be followed by yet another round of consultation.

The move comes after the High Court ruled last month that the authority’s plans to close 10 libraries, cut the mobile library service and reduce hours was unlawful.

In Wotton-under-Edge the library’s opening hours were set to be reduced and in Berkeley the library was to close and members of the community were to run a reduced service on a voluntary basis.

Council leaders hoped the changes would save £2 million - a 30 per cent reduction in the library service budget being proposed as part of a wider £108 million cut in council funding across all services.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of the council, said: "Over the next month we’ll be looking very closely at this ensuring we consider the impact of any changes on people from all walks of life.

"We do take our equalities duties very seriously and that’s why we carried out three impact assessments before confirming our original library plans. However, we will consider what the judge said very closely as we take a fresh look at this."

So far the authority has revealed no details of the new proposals but the council has said the plans must be sustainable and affordable.

The county council’s cabinet will be meeting on January 20 to discuss the plans, and if agreed, a public consultation will then be launched.

However, the announcement of further consultation has been met with anger from campaigners.

Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries had hoped to meet with Gloucestershire County Council this month but Cllr Hawthorne declined the invitation.

Johanna Anderson, from Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries, said: "This seems very rushed, especially given the holiday period."

She added: "We feel that Gloucestershire County Council is once again failing to engage with library users and we are extremely concerned, as it was this failure to listen to our concerns about their previous plans that led the courts to declare them unlawful with a bill of £100,000 for taxpayers.

"We fear that lessons have not been learned and they are set to make the same mistakes again."

A spokesman for Gloucestershire County Council said that the High Court challenge had so far cost the authority £70,000.