AN action group has been formed to protect library services in Herefordshire.

Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries (JAHL) is an independent group with members drawn from all the county library groups.

Last year’s threats to close the market town libraries were met with strong opposition, including more than 10,000 signatures on the “save our libraries” petitions in Ross-on-Wye and Leominster.

The separate town and city groups realised they needed co-ordinated action and set up JAHL, chaired by Elinor Kelly, the former chairman of Ross Library Development Group.

Dr Kelly said: “We believe that the best public libraries provide vital universal access to literacy, information, knowledge, community and culture.

"That means they can support the economic development of the county and the health, wellbeing and education of its residents.

"We want the people of Herefordshire, and visitors to the county, to have genuine access to the very best library service. JAHL will ensure that the voices of library users are heard loud and clear."

The group will be working with Herefordshire Council to find ways to sustain and improve the library services throughout the county.

There is a meeting tonight about the future of Herefordshire Libraries at the Museum Resource Centre, Friars Street, Hereford at 6pm.

Jesse Norman MP will chair the meeting.