Tory library closures are ‘ideological’ says leader

Councillor Luke Stubbs

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THE Lib Dem leader of Portsmouth City Council has criticised Tory-run local authorities for making ‘ideological’ library closues.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, whose authority is axing 184 jobs and cutting £15m from its budget this year, said: ‘We didn’t want redundancies.

‘But everybody has to make cuts, and it’s interesting how different councils have chosen to make them.

‘There seems to be a marked difference between places like us, where there have been relatively few redundancies and some others where people have decided to play politics.

‘It appears many Conservative councils are desperate to shut libraries.

‘Nine out of 11 were quoted for the Isle of Wight, for example, but while we have had to make some cuts, which we didn’t want, there is no way we were going to shut libraries.

‘It seems to be an ideological thing.’

Portsmouth City Council has also been singled out for praise from Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the national Lib Dems, for its approach to cuts.

He said: ‘There is a huge difference between councils we run in places like Sheffield which are having a small number of redundancies, places like Portsmouth where they are opening services, not closing them, and places like Manchester and Liverpool which are politicising the cuts to make it sound worse and forcing people out of jobs when they needn’t do so.’