Protests as Birmingham council confirms library cuts

Protests as Birmingham council confirms library cuts

Birmingham City Council has passed £105m of cuts, including a budget reduction for the Library of Bimingham, despite the annual meeting being disrupted three times by protestors.

Anti-cuts campaigners chanted "Shame on you" during the speech by Labour council leader Sir Albert Bore at yesterday's (3rd March) meeting, and were later ejected from the public viewing gallery by security. At the end of the four-hour debate, when councillors were due to vote, the meeting had to be halted again following another disturbance.

The cuts confirm plans to reduce the opening hours of the £183m Library of Birmingham by nearly half, from 73 to 40 hours a week, while up to 100 of the 188 members of staff at the library will find their jobs at risk.

In his speech, Bore said the council had worked to "mitigate" the impact of cuts.

He said: "In the Library of Birmingham we have moved to mitigate the impact of cuts on specialist collections and on child literacy. And we are exploring options for further funding from partner organisations."

Bore continued: "I might add that if the previous administration had paid more attention to that when the Library was first planned we might be in a more sustainable position now."

The Library of Birmingham was opened in September 2013 by Malala Youzafsai. Library director Brian Gambles said at the time: "This is a library that will serve the needs of the city for decades, perhaps centuries. It is well worth the money."

The Friends of the Library of Birmingham group, which took part in demonstrations outside the council building yesterday said in a message on its Facebook page: "Keep turning up, keep turning out and bring other people with you," and asked members of the public to contact their councillors about the decision.