THE U-turn over keeping libraries open at the expense of other services shows that democracy is still in action.

The announcement by Oxfordshire County Council yesterday will be hailed by many, given the wave of opposition to the plan put forward to close 20 of 43 libraries.

Let us be clear: this is a victory of people power through a campaign given star quality (and therefore the oxygen of publicity) by authors Philip Pullman and Colin Dexter.

But it is too simplistic to cast the county council as the pantomime villain in all this.

It took a position whereby it was trying to protect social care. Imagine the outcry and chants of “same old nasty Tories” if it decided to wield its axe on vulnerable people while leaving the libraries untouched?

But it put its plan out there and, to their credit, senior councillors have backtracked in the face of popular opinion.

Some at the council obviously still think it is not the right way given some of the comments coming out of County Hall yesterday, but it is listening.

That is local democracy in action.

There may be an argument that those in social care who will now suffer were less able to mobilise themselves into a collective voice than the library folk, but the county can only act upon what opinions it is hearing from its residents.