Cardiff library reprieve, but Birmingham cuts confirmed

Cardiff library reprieve, but Birmingham cuts confirmed

Libraries in Cardiff have seen a reprieve from the city council, but major cuts to the Library of Birmingham are to go ahead.

The ruling Labour group in Cardiff has confirmed that the seven libraries in the city that faced having their funding withdrawn will continue to be run and operated by the council – however, the authority has said it will continue to look at "alternatives" for how it manages the service.

Councillor Graham Hinchey told Wales Online: "We have listened to the large number of people who have responded to our consultation on the draft budget – a high proportion of the responses related to proposed changes in respect of the libraries. I am pleased to say that we propose to delete the £283,000 saving that withdrawing funds from the seven branch libraries would have created. None of the libraries are now at risk of closure, and they will continue to be funded."

He added that the council would continue to seek partners for running the service., setting up a "community transition fund" to investigate options for sharing services.

Campaigners in Cardiff staged a demonstration on Saturday 7th February, National Libraries Day, protesting against the cuts, which organisers claimed "sent a strong message" to the council.

This week also saw Cardiff-born author Ken Follett blasting the plans to remove funding from libraries in the city.

Meanwhile in Birmingham, the council has confirmed that it plans to push ahead with plans to make cuts to the Library of Birmingham, in moves which will see its opening hours slashed from 73 to 40 hours a week, while 100 staff members are axed.

The council's cabinet member for culture Penny Holbrook said that the plans were still in the council's budget, despite the efforts of campaigners, which has seen a 1,500-person petition handed in and a demonstration on Saturday.

Public responses to the council's consultation to the plans were 80% opposed to the cuts, the council has now revealed. The Friends of the Library of Birmingham group said the news was "undemocratic".

"In publishing the Council’s Budget for 2015-16 which has confirmed massive cuts to the opening hours to the Library of Birmingham, the Labour Group has chosen to ignore the expressed views of the people of Birmingham on this matter. This is undemocratic and unfair," the group said. "We will continue to campaign and to call for the cuts to both the Library of Birmingham and the Community Libraries to be reversed and expect continuing public support."

Meanwhile, Hertfordshire has confirmed it will keep all 46 of its library building open, although many will now be managed with community help.