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Islington Council slammed for ‘caring more about poo than books’ over library cuts

PUBLISHED: 10:35 24 May 2012

Archway Library

Archway Library

Archant

Town hall bosses have been slammed for “caring more about dog poo than books” after details of planned library cutbacks were leaked.

A confidential memo handed to the Gazette reveals opening hours will be slashed by 11 per cent from September, as individual branches suffer cuts of up to a quarter.

This is in a bid to save around £200,000 over two years – less than the £240,000 being paid for a crackdown on dog mess lasting just three months.

Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of the Liberal Democrats opposition, said: “This seems to be a council that cares more about dog poo than books. It’s about common sense and they’re not making the right decisions for Islington.

“Why is the council also wasting about £1million of Islington taxpayers’ money by giving free school meals to primary school children from Camden, Haringey and Hackney, instead of protecting our libraries?”

Islington will be spared the closures seen in boroughs like Camden and Brent, but seven of its 10 branches will be shut two days midweek, while four will close a further half day. Libraries will be twinned, so at least one of two will be open Monday to Saturday, although the twinned buildings are up to 1.5 miles apart – and West Library, in Bridgeman Road, Barnsbury, will be matched with a children’s library, Lewis Carroll in Copenhagen Street, Islington.

Tom Flynn, 64, a builder, who use the Archway branch in Highgate Hill, said: “I think it’s wrong and it will be difficult for older people. Why should they have to travel?”

Another user feared it was a “slippery slope” towards closures, while Ian Shaw, 61, a full-time carer who also visits Archway library, said: “I do have some sympathy with the council as it is forced to make cuts, but I would prioritise the libraries over dog poo.”

Cllr Janet Burgess, executive member for health and wellbeing, said: “I’m proud that despite the government’s massive funding cuts, we’re not closing any of our libraries.

“By doing this we keep our libraries safe for the future – if finances improve it’s much easier to extend hours again than it is to re-open a closed down building.

“We’re currently consulting our libraries staff about the proposals and are committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies as far as possible.”

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