Southampton residents confront council over library closures

Southampton residents confront council over library closures

Southampton residents branded their council leisure chief a “disgrace” at a meeting to discuss the closure of six libraries in the area.

According to local newspaper the Daily Echo, library users and council members met Labour cabinet member Satvir Kaur, member for communities, culture and leisure, about the proposed library closures, announced last week.

The plans propose closing five libraries in the area, as well as its mobile library service, in order to save the council £285,000 per year.

Conservative finance spokesman John Hannides said closing them would be "probably the most savage and appalling set of proposals we have seen in a generation, it is nothing short of butchery”.

A Labour council member, Cathie McEwing, said she did not understand why the final decision was going just to the cabinet and not the full council for a full debate.

However, Councillor Kaur said community groups could take on the libraries to create a “sustainable” future for the service. She also cited successful examples of community-led libraries in Sheffield and Lewisham.

The news comes as Birmingham Council is pausing buying books for libraries.

Earlier this week, a council spokesperson said: “As is well documented, we need to make huge savings across the council. Councils across the country are having to make hard choices about what can be afforded, and we simply cannot continue to do everything and fund everything we historically have.  We are continuing to look at how we secure the future of all our community libraries but whilst that work is underway we need to make tough choices to save money.  One of those choices is a pause on the book fund."