CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to fight on after councillors voted – again – to withdraw funding from Charmouth and eight other Dorset libraries.

A highly-charged Dorset County Council meeting saw councillors vote for a second time to take away core funding from nine of the county’s 34 libraries.

Campaigners say they will take the issue to the Secretary of State.

In July, the proposal to withdraw funding was carried by just one vote at a meeting.

It was put back on the agenda following a motion from the Liberal Democrat group – the first standing order of its kind to be used in 20 years.

The vote was split down party lines with 25 Conservative councillors voting against the motion to keep the libraries funded and 14 Lib Dem and Labour councillors voting for it.

Three councillors abstained from voting, including Marshwood Vale member Col Geoff Brierley, who is also a member of the Friends of Charmouth Library.

In his speech he suggested that the support package – which is currently guaranteed for only three years – should be improved.

The Charmouth campaigners joined members of the Association of Dorset Libraries (Ad Lib) at County Hall last Thursday.

Charmouth chairman Hazel Robinson addressed the meeting and said there was an ‘enormous appetite to keep the libraries open somehow’.

She added: “But we don’t know if we can, as no-one knows how transferring the libraries is actually going to work.”

Cabinet member Councillor Hilary Cox said residents would ‘step up to the plate’ and volunteer to run the libraries.

She said: “I think this gives villagers a great opportunity.

“I’m voting against the motion. I have great faith in the residents of Dorset.”

The Friends of Charmouth Library have admitted that although it is not an ‘attractive prospect’, they will continue regardless with plans to set up a community-managed facility.

Mrs Robinson said: “It’s not an attractive prospect and shows a total lack of vision and understanding from DCC but we will still be attempting to make Charmouth library into a useful community hub based on an excellent library and to keep it that way into the future.”

But there are fears the community-run libraries could be left on their own once the three-year support package expires.

“This means that the Friends and local councils of the nine libraries could put a lot of money and effort into improving their libraries and keeping them going only to find in three years’ time that they have no library management system, no new books, no refreshed stock and no professional help,” said Mrs Robinson.

“What’s more, community libraries are to be excluded from any modernisation of the library service. “We are really going to be left out on our own.”

Ad Lib campaigners said they would be arranging a meeting with Dorset MPs and taking the decision to the Secretary of State.

Keep up to date with progress in Charmouth on the new website