The Bristol Mayor has reportedly reversed a decision on cuts which would have seen 17 of the city’s 27 libraries closed.
Martin Rees announced he is scrapping plans to save £1.4m from the libraries’ budget, which would have seen the city draw on community support to maintain provision, according to the Bristol Post. However, current levels of funding are only confirmed until the next mayoral election in 2020.
The Mayor warned that the service is currently not fit for purpose and said that decisions made by the previous administration and central government had put pressure on the budget.
“Thanks to my all-Labour administration’s responsibility with council taxpayers’ money, we have found a way to safeguard funds and use reserves to cover the £1.4m annual shortfall caused by the former Mayor’s overspend and continuing cuts from the Conservative government in Westminster,” he said.
A cabinet report will now set out how investment can keep all the city’s libraries open. Rees said he would engage with community groups and councillors to “transform and mordernise” the service for the future and is calling on local groups to offer ideas on how to save money on provision.
Last year Rees announced a £1.4m budget cut for libraries, but the consultation was met with strong opposition, including three public petitions garnering more than 12,000 names altogether. Blackadder actor Tony Robinson also blasted the plan on social media.