MORE than 6,500 people have signed a petition against Sheffield Council’s plans to close up to 14 out of 27 community libraries.
The names have been collected by opposition Liberal Democrat councillors who oppose the decision to cut the library budget and say the council should save money from elsewhere.
Ruling Labour councillors say the plans will help save £1.6 million a year - although the closures would only save £370,000 in the 2013-14 financial year.
The council is currently inviting community groups, charities and businesses to step in and take over some of the branches.
Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, Liberal Democrat opposition leader on the authority, said: “Labour can no longer hide behind blaming the Government. We have come up with several alternative suggestions of how to find the required savings. But these have all been rejected by Labour councillors at the expense of closing libraries.”
He added: “It is farcical that Labour councillors want to spend up to £3,000 on speed reading lessons for themselves at the same time as voting to close our libraries.
Lib Dems have called for money to be saved by cutting the wages of council staff earning £30,000 a year, axing more senior managers and full-time trade union officials, reducing spending on consultants - which cost the council £4.7m last year - and reduce spending on a revamp of the Town Hall.
Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP Nick Clegg, who is backing the petition, added: “The outstanding response to the petition shows that the people of Sheffield won’t allow their local libraries to be closed without a fight.”
Coun Mazher Iqbal said: “We have had a positive reaction to our invitation for third parties to take over the running of libraries with interest from the voluntary sector and businesses.”
What do you think about the cuts to libraries?