SOUTHAMPTON'S libraries have been given a reprieve by civic chiefs dishing money back out into the city sparing them from the axe.

They had been left reeling from the city council's cuts as the authority tried to find an extra £20m worth of savings, with many libraries facing slashed hours and a reduction in services.

Last night, at the second of two meetings to deliberate on the council's budget, Labour bosses began finalising plans as to how to carve up the extra £5 million they had unexpectedly received from the government.

Many libraries across the city had been threatened with a reduction in services under draconian cuts but Clllr Simon Letts said that for most of them that would not be the case after an extra £100,000 was promised.

Under the initial plans, proposed cutting opening times in some branches by more than 50 per cent - losing 120 hours and a total of 18 jobs as a result.

With a books budget slashed by £50,000 and some mobile library services stopped, the swinging cuts would free up £303,000 for the council.

But now it looks like a third of that will be going back in - the exact details will be confirmed at a meeting or Labour bosses tonight.

“It's a substantial amount of money going back in. More than 2,000 people responded to the library consultation.

“The money will be used to make changes to the services such as longer opening hours and a wider range of services available.

About two thirds of those libraries earmarked for reductions in hours will be withdrawn. There will be some reductions in hours but nowhere near as much as was initially proposed.

“The detail will be coming out over the next two or three weeks. We will formally announce the budget in 10 days time,” said Cllr Letts.