A FORMER mayor for Swindon joked that worry over Brexit could be resulting in more people reading fiction.

If it is, Swindon cops might need to plan for a potential murder spike, with crime fiction being Old Town Library's most popular genre.

Lib Dem Stan Pajak made the gag as South Swindon Parish Council congratulated library staff for another successful month of book borrowing figures.

In January, 1,045 items were checked-out at the Devizes Road library – the second highest figure on record since the parish took over responsibility for the facility from the borough council in August 2017. Figures show 144 adult fiction books were withdrawn in the first month of the year.

Coun Pajak, who served as Swindon mayor in 2002/03, asked at Tuesday night’s meeting if “debate about leaving the EU is making people turn to fiction”.

But if Brexit is behind a spike in borrowing figures, it could say worrying things about what prospect of the UK’s exit from the EU is doing to the mental state of Old Town readers.

Crime fiction remains the most popular genre at the library, with J. K Rowling’s new Strike novel and C. J Sansom’s latest Tombland topping the list of people’s must-reads.

Deborah Lamb, the librarian, said rather than talk to her about Brexit readers are more interested in getting her recommendation of what books to devour next.

Coun John Short said of the high borrowing figures: "This is excellent news irrespective of your stance on Brexit. I think we all had doubts about taking over the libraries in the first place. This makes everyone realise what’s been done – and it’s a credit to the librarians.”

Old Town Library will run an Easter-themed Meet the Author event with Swindon-based children’s writer Fred Blunt on Wednesday, April 10 at 2pm.