Emotions ran high as hundreds of people stormed the steps of Sheffield Town Hall in a last-ditch attempt to save libraries from closure.
Councillors were accused of ‘cutting the hearts out of communities’ across Sheffield as a series of petitions opposing proposals to shut 16 facilities was presented to the council before the final day of public consultation.
While volunteer groups looking to take over axe-threatened venues have been granted until January 24 to work on business plans, the deadline for people to give their views on the plans falls tomorrow.
Residents of Upperthorpe, Burngreave, Frecheville, Park, Stannington, Ecclesfield and Walkley made the case for their libraries and urged the council to re-think proposals.
In Broomhill two separate petitions have collected more than 6,000 signatures.
Mother-of-one Charlotte Parnell, aged 38, of Broomhill, said: “I hope the petitions and protest show the council the strength of feeling. We want Broomhill to stay under council control.”
Charelene Park, a governor at Pye Bank Primary School in Burngreave, said: “Our library is a vital resource. In our diverse community it is a place where people can meet neighbours from different backgrounds.
“We do not believe a library run by volunteers is sustainable.”
A war of words broke out as a full public gallery fired a series of questions at the council, with the proposals branded ‘reckless’ and leaders criticised for failing to ‘fight for Sheffield’.
Coun Mahzer Iqbal, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “Over the past three years we have faced unprecedented cuts, which mean some services will have to stop or change drastically.
“The council fully understands the implications of these cuts and we will continue to provide a comprehensive and efficient service as legally required.
“I believe the council has been open and transparent throughout this process.”
Responses to public consultation will be examined ahead of a decision from the council’s cabinet next month.