Public consulted on library closures

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Seven Sefton Libraries could face the axe © Shropshire Council

Sefton Borough Council has decided to consult the public on the potential closure of seven libraries in measures to make drastic spending cuts.

Over the next two years, Sefton Council must make savings of at least £43.7m as a result of a reduction in Government funding and continuing demand pressures on the council’s services.

Plans to close seven of Sefton’s 13 public libraries were discussed by councillors at a cabinet meeting this month, and under some proposals as many as 10 could shut their doors.

The libraries which are subject of these proposals include Ainsdale, Aintree, Birkdale, Churchtown, College Road, Litherland and Orrell.

Bill Milburn, Strategic Director for Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council, concedes a thorough review of all services is being considered and a sustainable library service in Sefton will be identified for the foreseeable future.

He told JMU Journalism: “Sefton Council has not decided to shut seven libraries; it has decided to consult the public on an option which might include the closure of up to seven libraries.  In order to achieve the further savings required all services are being reviewed.

“The council has already made savings of over £64m in the last two years and if taken over a four year period these savings amount to a reduction of 40% of the Council’s controllable budget. We’ve already made substantial savings in reductions to senior management and back office support.”

Founding member of Friends of Ainsdale Library and Liberal Democrat council member, Haydn Preece has described the proposed closures which could save the council up to £500,000 per year as “cultural vandalism”.

Coronation Street Star Jean Alexander speaks out about library closures © cambridgefocus.blogspot.com

He commented: “I question the ‘under-use’ of libraries. Libraries in Sefton are used by a very diverse number of the population. We really need to be fighting to keep our libraries open.”

Former Coronation Street actress, Jean Alexander, has also criticised the Labour-led Sefton council and emerged as a leading figure amongst public outrage under their recommendations to axe seven libraries.

She said: “I am speaking for all the people who rely on libraries. They are the lifeblood of our communities. It is essential that they stay open. It is astonishing that people we elect can close them down without a second thought. It is a scandal.”

Consultation with the public regarding the proposed library closures commences on 29th October 2012 and closes on 14th January 2013.

About Joshua Nevett, JMU Journalism