A COUNCILLOR who led on plans to close Darlington's Crown Street Library and move the facility to a leisure centre last night said the U-turn on the plans was 'great news'.

As the council asked for the public's views on how to spend £2m revamping and repairing the library, Councillor Nick Wallis, Darlington Borough Council's cabinet member for leisure and local environment, said: "The main library staying at Crown Street is great news for the town centre and the service."

Cllr Wallis led the charge on plans to move the library from its current home, which was bequeathed to the town by Edward Pease in 1884. The move was touted as a cost-saving measure as the council battled with funding cuts.

But in September new council leader Stephen Harker announced he planned to keep the listed building open amid fears of it standing empty following the closure of town centre shops such as Marks & Spencer.

The future of the historic Crown Street library is part of a consultation which ends in March. Darlington Borough Council is now asking for the public's views on the future of the library service.

Detailed plans have not yet been developed, though, and the council wants to hear residents' views on how the library will look after its refurbishment.

It wants current library users – and those who visit in the future –would like to see the library look.

Visitors to events and groups at both Crown Street and Cockerton libraries will have a chance to share their views.

There will also be the chance to have a say at special events at the Cornmill Shopping Centre, Dolphin Centre and the Indoor Market.

Views will be collected at a magic-themed event on Tuesday, February 19, which is from 11am-1pm at the Cornmill Centre and 1.15 -3pm at the Dolphin Centre.

A science-themed event will be held at the Indoor Market on Thursday, February 21 from 11am-1pm.

Cllr Wallis added: “We don’t have detailed plans in place yet, nothing is set in stone. So, between now and the 15th of March we are having a conversation – rather than a consultation – to listen to your views.

“This will help with the development of those detailed plans for how the library will look in the future.

“We will be joined by members of the Friends of Darlington Libraries, who will be helping get the views of as many people as possible so we can make the most of the fantastic resource we have got." For more information visit www.darlington.gov.uk/conversation