Wirral's libraries, 11 of which were saved from closure after a high-profile local protest campaign in 2009, are now "empty shells" with a "skeleton" staff, according to the borough's new Labour administration.
Councillor Chris Meaden, the cabinet member for culture, said it was "literally impossible to run the library service we used to with the skeleton staff we have remaining" and "creative thinking" would now be needed, the Liverpool Daily Post reports.
“Fifty library staff have now gone and we are left with what is just the shell of a service," Meaden said. "The outside impression is fine. All the library buildings are still standing and if you walk down your high street and you are not a library user, you will not notice the difference. But inside it is a very different story. It is literally impossible to run the
library service we used to with the skeleton staff we have remaining."
Meaden said the borough would have to be "as creative as possible" to find new ways of providing a good quality service with many fewer staff.
Wirral council revoked its decision to close 11 libraries in October 2009, following the holding of an independent inquiry into its plans first set in motion by the then secretary of state for culture, Andy Burnham.
The inquiry report, published subsequently, found the closure plan had been in breach of the council's statutory duties under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 because Wirral council had "failed to make an assessment of local needs" before deciding to restructure its service.