Cllr Asher Craig, Cabinet Member for Libraries; Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol; Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East (L-R)
Cllr Asher Craig, Cabinet Member for Libraries; Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol; Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East (L-R)

Confirming remarks on local radio earlier this morning from Wick Road Library – Marvin Rees, the Labour Mayor of Bristol, has issued the following statement:

“Thanks to my all-Labour administration’s responsibility with council taxpayers’ money, we have found a way to safeguard funds and use reserves to cover the £1.4 million annual shortfall caused by the former Mayor’s overspend and continuing cuts from the Conservative government in Westminster.

Next week a cabinet report will be published setting out plans for how my administration can invest to keep every single library in Bristol open. We are looking forward to continuing to work with local community groups and councillors to transform and modernise our library service into the future, building on the work of local Labour Councillors Estella Tincknell and Jo Sergeant – both former branch librarians.”

Mike Langley, the local Labour councillor for Brislington East, added:

“I am delighted – as I am sure everyone in Brislington will be – to see plans on the table which will see Wick Road Library kept open. It’s an incredible resource for residents and I look forward to working with local people and community groups in Brislington to make our local library even better in the future.

Other local councillors should welcome the sound financial management of Mayor Marvin Rees’ all-Labour administration which will enable all 27 library in Bristol to remain open. This plan would not be possible without our progressive budget which protects people’s public services while cutting senior management by £1 million per year – something opposed by all of the opposition parties.”

Commenting, Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, said:

“I am so pleased with this announcement, having worked hard with councillors and the local community to help find a way forward for Wick Road Library. The Council has been under immense pressure due to Government cuts, but Marvin and Asher have been constructive and open throughout this process – always prepared to talk to me, and to listen to local people.

I know that my constituents will be very happy that competent Labour leadership of the council looks set to ensure we have the money to keep all of Bristol’s libraries and all of Bristol’s children’s centres open.”

 

NOTES TO EDITOR

Under Labour, Bristol City Council currently funds 27 libraries across the city of Bristol and will continue to do so. This is more even than the City of Manchester (23), which was designated as a UNESCO City of Literature last year at the same time as Bristol secured the global heritage organisation’s City of Film status: http://www.manchester.gov.uk/directories/200062/libraries

The plan before Mayor Marvin Rees’ all-Labour cabinet will secure the futures of libraries in Avonmouth, Bedminster, Bishopston, Bishopsworth, the city centre, Clifton, Filwood, Fishponds, Hartcliffe, Henbury, Henleaze, Hillfields, Horfield, Easton, Knowle, Lockleaze, Marksbury Road, Redland, Sea Mills, Shirehampton, Southmead, St George, St Pauls, Stockwood, Westbury, Whitchurch, and Brislington.

Former Mayor George Ferguson closed Eastville library and also proposed closures in Brislington, Sea Mills, Bedminster, Clifton, Redland, and Westbury-on-Trym; he also presided over a £30 million overspend in his final year in office prior to an unsuccessful re-election bid.

Since the Conservatives assumed power in 2010 through their coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, and started austerity, carried on by the current Tory government, propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party, almost 500 libraries have closed in England, Scotland, and Wales – with almost 8,000 libraries jobs disappearing between 2010 and 2016 and around 14 million books lost.

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