KINGSCLERE villagers are celebrating after a group of volunteers stepped forward to save their much-loved local library.

As previously reported in The Gazette, residents were warned just weeks ago that the library would close in March unless new co-ordinators could be found to take responsibility for the facility.

Kingsclere library, in George Street, has been under threat since being earmarked early last year for closure as part of a cost-cutting measure by Hampshire County Council.

Residents were divided as to whether they should fight the impending closure with legal action, to create a community library or to look into the possibility of a mobile library paying regular visits to Kingsclere.

Now 25 volunteers have now been found to take over the running of the library, led by a committee of four volunteer co-ordinators.

The parish council will support the library financially for the first year with a £3,000 grant, and charitable group The Headley Trust has pledged grants of between £2,250 and £2,750 for the following three years.

Hampshire County Council estimated that it would save between £16,000 and £18,000 each year by transferring the library to a community group.

Cllr Keith Chapman, Hampshire’s executive member for culture and recreation, said he was delighted the library would be saved.

He said: “It’s great news, I am delighted. I think it’s down to the village coming together and the support of the parish council, which has been excellent.

“This sort of scheme has been very successful as the library can open for whatever hours are most popular and people have more choice.

“This is very good news for Kingsclere.”

Hampshire Library Service is looking to cut spending by 12 per cent and Kingsclere Library was one of the three most underused libraries across the county which were earmarked for closure.