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Bury libraries set to close down due to Government cuts

  • Bury council is set to face cuts of £32m by 2020

Bury Council has announced that the Greater Manchester town will have to terminate at least 10 of its 14 libraries in order to make savings on council expenditure. One of which is the ever popular Radcliffe library.

The library services currently provided for the town are costing more than £2.4m a year to run.

In a recent public meeting, the leader of Bury council, Rishi Shori, expressed her thoughts regarding the closure of said library: “Keeping Radcliffe library is still my preferred option” but it is not in their total control as “there is a public consultation going on.”

Many library supporters are beginning to form local groups to protest the intended cutbacks. Local residents have set up a petition to save Radcliffe Library and has already gather over 450 signatures.

The council has faced criticism over not enough people being aware of the intended cuts and the public consultation.

Bury resident Lucy Hartley, 34, said: “The only reason I knew about this petition was because one of my friends mentioned it on their Facebook – I feel like the council are being pretty quiet about the whole thing.”

According to council leaders, the cost of renovating all library buildings in the area would exceed £1.3m and would take around 5 years.

Elizabeth Binns, Head of Libraries in Bury, explained why they were unable to comment on the topic: “We are in the middle of yet another library review at Bury which means that it would be difficult to have a meaningful conversation.”

Staff have also been hit hard by the cuts – their workforce has dropped by a third. 

The number of volunteers in Manchester libraries has more than doubled since 2010 and has now surpassed the amount of staff that are paid in such establishments.

In an investigation by the BBC, it was found that just under 8,000 jobs in the library sector have been lost in the last six years alone. The amount of paid employees dropped from 31,977 in 2010 to 24,044 in 2016.

Across those same six years, more than 15,000 volunteers were enlisted to replace those paid positions and 343 libraries have closed. This finding has generated fears regarding the future of the profession.

Librarian Amanda Horton believes she is “lucky to still have a job.”

She said during our interview: “I know I’m lucky to still have a job – it’s just disgusting how many of my colleagues I’ve had to say bye to since the cuts started.”

The plans being proposed by councilors are tailored towards its residents and are set to ensure 98% of people in the borough are within 30 minutes a library.

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