Wirral libraries saved after Council u-turn

<p>Wirral Council is to revoke its decision to close 11 libraries, a move that has been welcomed by library campaigners who labelled the move a&quot;climbdown&quot;.&nbsp; An independent inquiry into the council&#39;s library closure plans is due to be published imminently.</p><p>Council leader Steve Foulkes is putting the decision to a meeting of the Council&#39;s ruling cabinet today (1st October). In a statement Foulkes said: &quot;We firmly believe that our initial decision to invest &pound;20m in the modernisation of our library service and the creation of 13 Neighbourhood centres was the right decision for the future of Wirral.&quot; But he added that in light of the Government&#39;s own review into modernising libraries it did &quot;not want anything Wirral has done, or planned to do, to overshadow this debate, or create precedents which could cause real difficulties for other local authorities facing the same challenges as us&quot;.<br /><br />Deputy leader of the Council, Simon Holbrook added that the development did not mean there would not be changes to library services in the future: &quot;There is no doubt that there are hard times ahead and that the situation is not likely to improve.&quot; But he stated: &quot;We will work to establish a new consensus which ensures sustainability for the library service. We will welcome constructive suggestions for addressing the significant challenges that lie ahead for us all.&quot;<br /><br />The move has been interpreted by campaigners as a u-turn in the face of the orchestrated campaign against the library closures, and the impending publication of the review into the proposed cuts, led by public policy consultant Sue Charteris.<br /><br />Author Alan Gibbons, who founded the Campaign for the Book, said: &quot;I can only interpret this as a climbdown before the inevitable. Council leader Steve Foulkes must expect the independent inquiry into the council&#39;s library closure plans is going to go against his administration. This move has been forced by a magnificent show of resistance by Wirral residents, librarians, authors, trade unionists and campaigning groups.&quot;<br /><br />But others warned that other libraries remained under threat. Roy Clare, chief executive of government advisory body the MLA (Museums, Libraries &amp; Archives Council), said: &quot;More than a dozen other library authorities are facing similar questions around investment and sustainability (a number that seems - unsurprisingly - to be growing and accelerating in the recession). There is no golden bullet to resolve these situations, which have to be faced locally, by elected representatives supported by their officers. Each local solution will be different. Each locality needs its campaigners, to whom I pay tribute; they represent democracy and accountability at work.&quot;<br /><br />Clare said that the MLA was ready to back the local authority and the local people in their next steps. &quot;I am also confident that the underlying issues - and the lessons to be learned - will find resonance and have a broad application across England.&quot;<br /></p>