The new rulers of county hall have blocked the sale of Fulwood library, just three days after winning the county council elections.
County Coun Geoff Driver, leader of the victorious Conservative group, had a key question for officers when he stepped back into county hall on Monday - have contracts been exchanged?
Coun Driver, whose party won overall control with 46 seats, said he had asked for a hold to be put on all library sales.
He said: “Fulwood library contracts have not been exchanged so we will not be exchanging contracts and will be reopening Fulwood as a library.I haven’t got a date yet - it will be as soon as possible. It’s been closed long enough.”
Would-be buyers Turf Tech of Cable Court Fulwood declined to comment. The company has already lodged a change of use application with Preston Council, seeking to change the historic Garstang Road library into offices with extra parking spaces.
Offers had also been received for the purchase of Whalley library but no contracts exchanged and Coun Driver confirmed that too would reopen as a library. Barrowford library had been sold, but contracts not exchanged and Bolton le Sands, Lostock Hall and Freckleton libraries were also on the sell list.
Fulwood Library campaigner Jane Porter, who collected thousands of signatures for a petition pleading for the library to stay open and had warned many people would not be able to get to the nearest other library at Sharoe Green, said: “I am jubilant with the news. The library was a lifeline for a lot of people who have not been able to get to Sharoe Green ... I only hope that some of the lovely and knowledgeable staff who were ousted are able to return to their old jobs.”
She added: “Our son, Oliver, aged 11 years, said on the final day Fulwood library was closing, that he would not attend the farewell tea party the staff put on, as he knew that the library would re-open. I am over the moon that his words have come true.”
Coun Driver, who was reelected as Tory group leader on Saturday, pledged all the libraries closed across the county will reopen but where community groups had stepped in to run them they would not be “snatched back”, but discussions would be held to see if they wished to continue and what support is needed.
He said other priorities included highways: “To make sure we’ve got the priorities right in terms of expenditure and to make sure we are going to tackle the real problems that prevail.”
These incldued “terrible potholes” on some of the county’s main roads.
A third priority will be looking at the future for subsidised bus services.
•New councillors take up their roles at midnight tonight (Monday). The new council leader will be elected on May 25 at the council’s AGM.
Meanwhile any urgent decisions can be taken by the council’s Chief Executive Jo Turton, in consultation with Coun Driver.
The defeated Labour group at county hall had said library closures and sales were necessary because of funding cuts and rising demand for essential services, especially for social care.