Liverpool Council threatens to close 10 libraries

Liverpool City Council is considering closing half its libraries as it looks to make another round of budget savings.

Like Newcastle City Council, which is aiming to close ten of its 18 libraries, Liverpool City Council could shut ten of its 19 libraries in an attempt to save £938,000 from their budget.
The Liverpool Daily Post reports that the Labour-run council is considering plans that would see the Central Library open seven days a week alongside two community libraries in the north and south of the city. There would then be around six smaller libraries open for shorter periods. The council is committed to running the Central Library at a cost of almost £2m a year under a PFI deal signed in 2009. It is due to reopen in May following a refurbishment programme.

The council refer to it as a ”hub and spoke” model. A spokesman said: “Consultation will be held over having a smaller network of buildings and some services may be delivered by other organisations from 2014/15. The service will also place more of an emphasis on digital access, with members available to download books online. This option will save £1m per year.”

Mayor Joe Anderson said: “This has been a horrendous process in which we have had to make some extremely difficult and hard choices in order to balance the books for the next financial year, but also to prepare for the following year. In previous years we have been able to make many of the savings by reducing back office functions, and halving the senior management team. We are now at the stage where those options have gone and we are having to prioritise one front line service over another."

He added: “I completely understand that some people will be extremely unhappy at what is being proposed. They have every right to be angry, because I am as well. The simple fact is that we get 80% of our funding from the government, and the savage cut in our grant means we are the hardest hit city in the country.”

Overall, the council needs to save £290m between 20011-17. The latest proposals will be consulted on, and considered by the city’s mayoral select committee on 12th February, before the council’s cabinet assesses the plans on 22nd February.

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