U-turn on library cuts: Lib Dems win 5 yr. commitment from Labour Cabinet

Local Lib Dem councillors have welcomed a decision by Labour-run Haringey Council to reverse planned cuts to library opening hours and staff. They also welcomed a further concession to protect services for the next 5 years.

Lib Dems outside Muswell Hill Library, N10 (Dawn Barnes, Cllr Pippa Connor, Cllr Martin Newton, Cara Jenkinson, Caroline Pidgeon, Cllr Gail Engert) campaigning to save library services in the borough

The library cuts were in the original draft of Labour’s budget for this year. However, following a campaign by the Lib Dems and local residents, the Labour Cabinet u-turned at the Cabinet meeting on 14th February and decided not to implement the £150,000 of cuts after all. The news follows just days after local Lib Dem councillors announced their intention to put forward a budget amendment to reverse Labour’s cuts to local library services.

Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Gail Engert, won a further concession from the Labour Cabinet when she asked them to commit to keeping the same library opening hours for the next 5 years. In response the Labour Cabinet Member promised to:

  • keep Libraries open and maintain Libraries open as they are
  • maintain the opening hours of Libraries for the next 5 years

The Lib Dem opposition councillors had criticised Labour’s original proposals, which had been due to save the council £150,000 and said they would keep the library services. The opposition councillors argued that savings could be made by cutting the bill for very senior staff at the council instead of reducing library opening hours and making 6 library staff redundant.

Cllr Gail Engert, Haringey Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition, comments:

“Whilst I welcome Labour’s u-turn on their plans to cut library opening hours and staff, they should not have considered making the cuts in the first place. Libraries provide important services for young people who need somewhere to study and provide spaces for local community groups to meet.

“I am pleased the Liberal Democrats also won a commitment from Labour to keep library services as they are for the next 5 years. We are committed to protecting libraries and the services they provide, we will do everything we can to make sure Labour keep their word and don’t cut the service, staff or hours.”

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