PROTESTORS took to the steps of the Civic Offices on Wednesday evening ahead of an extraordinary meeting of the council.

The meeting was called by the Labour group to allow newly elected councillors to bring forward motions on the transfer of Lydiard Park to external management and the imposition of parish councils across the borough.

Representatives from the Swindon People’s Assembly were joined outside the council chamber by supporters of the Save Swindon’s Libraries campaign and other local campaigners.

In addition to voicing their opposition to the Conservative plans for Lydiard and parishing, the demonstrators were keen to ensure that the campaign to oppose future cuts to the library service was also kept on the agenda.

Kate Linnegar of the Swindon People’s Assembly said: “The libraries is an issue which highlights the problems that cuts have caused.

“It is another example of the erosion of our public services which we feel is caused by decisions made by central government.

“We have asked Swindon Borough Council to challenge the cuts in the way that other councils have but they have refused because they broadly agree with the ‘bookkeeping’ measures being taken.

“The government’s argument is that there is no money and so they have no choice – but that is not true, it’s a political ideology not an economic necessity.

“The cuts are detrimental to the residents of Swindon, issues like parishing and Lydiard all come back to austerity.”

Although the future of Swindon’s libraries was not on the agenda for the extraordinary meeting, campaigners wanted to build on the momentum they had generated ahead of last month’s local elections.

An announcement on the libraries strategy was initially expected around this time however it has been pushed back to July because of a need for more time to review the significant number of public responses to the engagement questionnaires distributed earlier in the year.

Sarah Church, chairman of the Save Swindon’s Libraries campaign, said: “It is clear that due process for consultation must be undertaken by Swindon Borough Council.

“Campaigners and residents have submitted their considered views to the public engagement, and Save Swindon’s Libraries welcomes the extension to the period given to council officers to draft a strategy in light of the volume of responses.

“However, we will be looking carefully to see whether the council has considered all the options available to them, many of which are already in practice around the UK.”

Around a dozen protestors gathered to display their banners focussing on the cuts facing the library service, and also the wider issue of funding in the town.

Councillors from the Labour group joined the protestors on the steps to show their support for their cause.