Wirral libraries protestor
ELEVEN closure-threatened libraries will stay open – for now.
Council leader Steve Foulkes and deputy Simon Holbrook made the dramatic announcement last Thursday, leaving campaigners hailing a major victory.
Cllr Foulkes said the U-turn meant the authority would have to find an extra £1million of savings in its next budget.
While library supporters continued to celebrate this week, the political fallout saw fresh calls for the Labour/Lib Dem leadership to resign.
Conservative councillors responded to the decision by calling an extraordinary meeting of the full council, to take place on Monday at Wallasey Town Hall.
But Cllr Foulkes accused the opposition of “playing political games” and said the meeting was called without consultation with him or Cllr Holbrook.
Conservative leader Cllr Jeff Green said “humiliating U-turns” had become the leadership’s “defining policy”.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the libraries are going to stay open but why haven’t they accepted they were in the wrong? There was no apology and we will be pointing out that, as far as we’re concerned, it appears they haven’t listened or learned.
“This administration has lost the trust and confidence of Wirral’s residents.
“They carried on spending council money on this, they used up officers’ time – it’s just outrageous.”
And he added: “They said we didn’t consult them about the meeting on Monday – well where was the consultation with library users in the first place?”
In a statement, Cllr Foulkes said he believed the decision to close libraries and invest £20m in 13 neighbourhood centres was the right one, and warned the “challenge” facing the library service had not gone away.
He said: “I have always suspected that the Conservatives’ motives on this issue were purely political, unlike some members of the public who were genuinely committed to their libraries.
“On the other hand maybe they now want to oppose us keeping the libraries open – I can’t begin to understand their bizarre motives.
“I would just say to the Conservatives - stop playing political games with the people of Wirral. Stop destroying everything we are trying to achieve and start to work with us to create an excellent council for all Wirral residents.”