A ROW has blown up after Government ministers criticised the council for cutting opening hours of Wirral libraries.

Town hall leader Cllr Phil Davies said he was “outraged” and branded their remarks “the height of hypocrisy.”

The bust-up centres around Wirral West MP Esther McVey inviting secretary of state for culture, media and sport Sajid Javid to visit Upton library on Thursday.

Employment minister Ms McVey later lashed the cut in library hours as “ill thought out” adding it would “disadvantage” the community.

She said she would put pressure on the authority for a change of heart.

Councillor Davies told the Globe: “Opening hours for the community libraries were reduced purely due to the scale of the cuts their Government has imposed on Wirral.

“They really have got a cheek. It is the height of hypocrisy.

“They’re coming here to score cheap political points when their time could be better spent trying to persuade the Prime Minister and his Chancellor to stop inflicting spending cuts on the people of Wirral - £151m over the last four years.

“The fact is, unlike many other areas of the country, we are not closing any libraries.”

He said he has recently held a meeting with library friends groups and is optimistic that with the help of volunteers, the current 18 hours per week opening time will be extended.

Ms McVey said she and Mr Javid met with users and friends groups at Upton, who told the culture minister they believe “the council’s decision to cut the hours was absolutely devastating.”

Ms McVey said: “I made representations to the council during its consultation process, opposing closure or any reduction in hours of the libraries, and I will continue to work on behalf of my constituents and ask the council to reconsider its ill-conceived and ill thought-out idea.

“Libraries are not just for lending books; they are a hub, binding our communities together which we must not lose in closures by stealth.

“I will continue fighting for users and community groups who must not be disadvantaged.”

She added that Mr Javid will take on board all the library users’ views and “feed them into the Government’s library strategy."

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You might not think that our calm and peaceful libraries could become a political battleground, but you'd be wrong!

Back in 2009, most of our libraries were in danger of being swept away - and here the Globe recalls a tale of secret reports, clandestine meetings and bitter arguments that still rankle in the corridors of Wallasey Town Hall to this day.