THE leader of Somerset County Council, Cllr Ken Maddock, has just released a statement in reaction to the High Court's ruling that its plans to close libraries were "unlawful."

Cllr Maddock said: “We did not come into this Administration wanting to close things, especially services as dear to people’s hearts as our libraries.

"The decision was taken after great deliberation and with great reluctance.

"Our income is drastically down and at the same time the demand for our services is increasing.

"Our top priority is to provide a safety net for vulnerable children and adults. That is why we have to make savings and are looking at everything we do as a council."

Cllr Maddock added: "We have worked with communities ever since we took the decision to reduce the libraries budget earlier this year and it was tremendously encouraging to see the number of people wanting to come forward and take over many of the libraries concerned.

"I am absolutely confident that in many cases libraries would not have closed. We now have the judge’s ruling and are restricted as to what we can say about it at this time.

“We welcome the court’s agreement that our plans would still provide a comprehensive and efficient library service.

"We also welcome the judge’s comments that our consultation process met all requirements."

But he added: "We do of course accept all the Judge’s directions and will act accordingly.

“We will now take some time to consider the court’s lengthy judgement and discuss any steps we need to take.”