Protests at council cuts meeting

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Soutport Library ©

Soutport Library ©

Police were called to Bootle Town Hall on Thursday after campaigners disrupted a Sefton Council meeting due to discuss the latest cuts to their budget.

The meeting had to be postponed for nearly an hour after protesters flocked to the venue, where police had to deal with the interruption.

The council meeting was held to discuss cuts to the 2013/14 budget, for which seven Sefton libraries are in danger of closing.  After a petition was signed by more than 17,000 people, politicians agreed to consider their views.

The ruling Labour party have handed campaigners a temporary reprieve as they agreed to deliberate the closures for the next three months, investigating whether there are any feasible ways of keeping some or all of the libraries open.

Volunteers and a private firm have offered to take over the threatened libraries, which include Aintree, Ainsdale, Birkdale, Churchtown, Crosby, Orrell and Litherland.

Volunteer group Sefton CVS has plans to sell fruit and vegetables from Birkdale library if their fight to keep it open is successful.

Sefton Council Leader, Cllr Peter Dowd, said: “It is hard to believe how this level of cuts in Sefton could be seen as fair. Some of the savings we have already had to make have had a devastating effect on our communities, and they are likely to be hit hard again.”

The closures could save the council £400,000 a year, and the library cuts are part of their plans to save £50.8million from their expenditure.

Campaigner and petition spokeswoman Mary McQueen, who is part of the Birkdale Library Action Group (BLAG), said: “In the proximity of the library there are 4,700 kids. It’s an important facility for everyone.”

About Rose Cameron, JMU Journalism