Former children's laureate Anne Fine has condemned plans to cut Durham library services, calling them "short sighted" and "almost immoral."
According to a local news report, Fine, who lives in Barnard Castle, has spoken out against plans which are likely to see 250 library staff, the equivalent of 134 FTE posts, affected, as well as widespread cuts to opening hours and reductions in mobile services. Following the cutbacks, Durham county council proposes to transfer libraries to a charitable trust. The changes are due to bring £1.4m cost savings in the cutbacks, and £1m with the transfer to the trust.
Fine called the savings "a paltry sum considering the loss, because in a recession libraries become even more important." She said: "To cut library services is short-sighted and in the long run it will cost more than it will save. There will be more depression and vandalism. In social care it will cost so much more. It is almost immoral in a time of cuts."
She added: "The people whose decision this is will be as vilified as Beeching was for his short-sighted cuts to the railways."
The council's cabinet will be asked to approve the plans at a meeting at County Hall this week, before the plans go out to public consultation.
Councillor Maria Plews, cabinet member for libraries, said: "We are confident that the changes we are proposing will enable us to offer a financially sustainable library network that is vibrant, modern and enjoyable to visit despite our reduced budget."