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Plans to close 11 city libraries a step closer; Councillors agree on closures after government cuts.

Byline: NEIL DOCKING ECHO Reporter neil.docking@trinitymirror.com NEILDOCKINGECHO @

COUNCILLORS approved plans to move forward with the closure of 11 of Liverpool's libraries.

The decision was given the green light at Liverpool council's cabinet meeting - but there will be four weeks of public consultation and a special select committee hearing to examine the issue.

Objectors accused Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson and his team of turning a "city of culture into a city of Philistines."

SAY Go to echo.

But Mayor Anderson hit back, arguing the level of cuts forced on the council by central government meant there was no choice but to make difficult decisions.

He also rejected calls from former '80s Militant figurehead Tony Mulhearn to set what the Mayor described as "an illegal budget." He said: "You think Liverpool on its own can change the world.

"It did not work in the 1980s and it isn't going to work now."

The move aims to save PS2.5m, as the authority needs to make PS157m of savings by 2016/17.

HAVE YOUR The libraries at risk are: liverpool uk Breck Road, Dovecot, Fazakerley, Kensington, Lee Valley, Old Swan, Sefton Park, Spellow, Walton, Wavertree and West Derby.

Green Party councillor Tom Crone said the outcry about the plans showed "how much people value these libraries".

He suggested cash be taken from the mayoral and members fund and the leader's discretionary fund to save libraries, while accepting that other causes would then miss out.

But Mayor Anderson accused the Greens of "opportunistic grandstanding" and said using this money to protect library services would be "robbing Peter to pay Paul".

He gave the example of having to find nearly PS100m in savings in adult social care services alone, and said savings had to be made in every council department.

He said: "The bottom line is doing nothing is not an option. We've got to make those savings."

The council has insisted that 95% of people will still live within two miles of a library.

But Martin Ralph, of Old Swan Against the Cuts, who described the proposals as "severely flawed", argued people on low incomes would struggle to access them.

Children's author Alan Gibbons presented a 10,000-signature petition against the closures. Stating that he didn't want "the ity of culture to become the city of Philistinism," he urged the council to think again, adding: "Why on earth do we have a Labour Party if we don't fight for our people?" This sentiment was shared by Mr Mulhearn, who argued the council needed to stand up to the Government.

However, Mayor Anderson said he was elected ahead of him, based on a manifesto of running the city respons-ibly.

CAPTION(S):

Breck Road library is one of 11 in the city under threat |

Joe Anderson |

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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 16, 2014
Words:464
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