CAMPAIGNERS have smashed their target for a 5,000-name petition to force council chiefs to reconsider closing libraries.

More than 10,000 people expressed their dismay of controversial plans to cut several of the county libraries by signing the petition.

Members of Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries (FGL), a group set up to battle the plans, submitted the document to Shire Hall chiefs last week (January 6).

In November last year, Gloucestershire County Council announced plans to cut library services by 43 per cent as part of a bid to save £108million over the next four years.

FGL campaigners geared themselves into action and collected petition signatures, raising their concerns with councillors and MPs. They needed to collect at least 5,000 signatures by December 31 to force GCC's cabinet to take a vote of the full council on whether to hold an independent review of the plans.

Several Cotswold libraries are under threat including Lechlade, Fairford, Tetbury, Moreton-in-Marsh and Bourton-on-the-Water.

Only the county’s nine major libraries, including Cirencester, will remain in their current form.

FGL chairman Johanna Anderson said she was thrilled with the success of the petition and thanked campaigners who braved freezing temperatures, snow and ice to gather signatures.

"The support we’ve received has been tremendous," she said. "We believe that cutting the already small budget for the library service will not have any meaningful impact on budgets for other services. "We also believe that wherever you live, services will be affected by cuts or closures elsewhere in Gloucestershire." The campaign to save the libraries has also been backed by celebrity authors including Cotswold writer Joanna Trollope.

A GCC spokesman confirmed the issue would now be debated at a full council meeting on January 19.

GCC leader Mark Hawthorne said: "Councils across the UK are significantly rethinking library services and we feel the strategy we are proposing is the right way forward for Gloucestershire. It is affordable and focuses on working much more closely with communities and with other people who deliver services locally."

An online petition is still running at until February 17.