COUNCILLORS have praised residents and community groups for their enthusiasm in taking over the running of their local libraries.

It follows Swindon Borough Council’s decision earlier this year to pass the responsibility for running libraries from the borough to parish councils.

On Tuesday, the Stratton St Margaret Parish Council reopened the library in Beechcroft Road with promises to turn it into a “thriving community hub”.

Parish council chairman Joe Tray said that he and fellow councillors had a clear vision for the library and he thought it would be “a huge success”.

In response, Coun Mary Martin, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for communities and place, said: “We have been really pleased with the community response to the changes to the library service. The way local organisations have stepped up to take on local libraries is testament to how important libraries are to residents.

“Beechcroft Road library, and the ambition the parish council have for it, is a great example of where Swindon Borough Council and a local organisation can work together to provide a high quality library service for the future.”

Speaking about the parish council’s plan for the Beechcroft Road library, Coun Tray said that he hoped it would be used it for a myriad of things, from popping in for a coffee to getting advice from the police or the fire service.

Other libraries around the town have also benefited from a huge local drive to turn them into community hubs.

The Covingham Library Trust earlier this month held a fundraising barbecue to raise cash to secure the future of the St Paul’s Drive library.

Coun Martin added: “All of the community libraries in the borough have received funding from us and we look forward to working with them to provide their own library experience tailored to the needs of their communities.

“All libraries will be using book stock and staff from the council, so library services will continue from all the community libraries.

“We also look forward to a new library opening in the Hindu Temple from November.”

The council is currently in the process of introducing a system of extended opening for the five borough libraries.

The North Swindon library is the first to introduce extended opening.