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Hands off libraries, Wirral Tories warn
WIRRAL Tories have vowed all out war against any moves to cut library services as part of a savage cost-cutting exercise by the local authority.
Faced with the prospect of cutting back spending to the tune of £100m over three years council chiefs are probing local authority operations extensively in a bid to find savings.
Council leader Cllr Phil Davies said some services could end up outside direct council control as the authority sought “imaginative and innovative” ways to make economies.
But Tory councillors have pledged to shield the libraries from the axe.
Deputy Tory group leader Cllr Lesley Rennie warned: “If anyone dares to say the libraries aren’t essential services I would be beside myself with rage.
"We haven't seen any documentation on any proposed economies yet and I would hope that the libraries are not involved.
"If they were then I, along with my Conservative colleagues, would vociferously fight to defend them."
Three years ago plans to shut 11 libraries across Wirral were quashed following a huge outcry and a public inquiry.
Cllr Rennie said: “It was clear from the inquiry that libraries are at the heart of local communities and it never crossed our minds that they might be at risk.
“If they are we could fight tooth and nail to save them.”
She said that “quite a lot of budget implications” would be made more apparent at next Thursday’s meeting of the Labour-controlled Wirral Council cabinet.
At the same meeting councillors will learn the initial results of a major consultation exercise in which the public were asked to identify the services they most valued.
Almost 7,000 people took part in the consultation – one of the biggest of its kind in the country.
The findings indicated that people agreed the top priorities should be protecting vulnerable adults and children, tackling poverty and inequalities in health, creating jobs and attracting investment.
People also placed high value on reducing crime and anti-social behaviour, education and care for the elderly and the local environment.
There was also support for the council looking to raising or introducing charges for services, with income raised used to protect other services.