Protest against library closures

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Wavertree District Library is one of the buildings set for closure. Pic © Wikimedia Creative Commons

Wavertree District Library is one of the buildings set for closure. Pic © Wikimedia Creative Commons

A demonstration against Liverpool City Council’s proposed plans to close 11 libraries will take place at Central Library on Saturday.

Liverpool TUC, Old Swan Against Cuts (OSAC) and Liverpool Against the Cuts (LATC) have come together to schedule the city centre rally for October 4th at 1pm, and it has already received strong support in its early stages from similar groups in Sefton Park and Lee Valley.

The council is looking to save £2.5m by shutting down 11 of the city’s 18 libraries due to a 58% cut in funding by central government, which has sparked fury amongst many library-goers and campaigners.

Breck Road, Dovecot, Fazakerley, Kensington, Lee Valley, Old Swan, Sefton Park, Spellow, Walton, Wavertree and West Derby libraries are all at risk of closure, with low visiting numbers and high running costs two reasons for their potential shutdown.

Martin Ralph, the secretary for OSAC and Vice President for Liverpool TUC, told JMU Journalism: “These cuts will be very discriminatory if carried through. They will penalise the poor, low paid, looking for work, disabled people, families with children, people with mental health issues etc.

“The closures will further rip out the social centres at the heart of our communities.”

A four-week consultation regarding the planned library closures began at the Lee Valley Millennium Centre on Thursday night and campaigners were allowed to voice their anger over the council’s plans.

However, a separate meeting at the Old Swan Youth Club on Derby Lane was also held on the same night by OSAC, with Liverpool’s award-winning children’s author Alan Gibbons amongst those speaking at the event.

Leaflets asking people to help defend the city’s libraries this weekend have been issued to those in the areas where libraries are being earmarked for closure and Mr Gibbons, 61, believes the upcoming protest is determined to put ‘pressure’ on the authority.

Mr Gibbons told JMU Journalism: “The demonstration is needed for several reasons. So there is no ‘divide and rule’, trying to keep open one library at the expense of others. We want no library closures.

“We want to put public pressure on our councillors to change their minds. To alert the people of Liverpool to the fact that there is resistance.

“The rally will say loud and clear that when a library closes there is little chance of it reopening. Huge volumes of evidence say that libraries are popular and effective in raising educational standards and giving the community a hub.”

Regarding the council’s plans to cut library services, Belle Vale ward councillor Janet Kent told Thursday’s meeting at Lee Valley Millennium Centre: “We don’t want to make these cuts… they are appalling but we can’t spend money we haven’t got.”

About Matthew Judge, JMU Journalism