Cuts At Birmingham's Flagship Library
10 December 2014, 11:57
Birmingham City Council has announced plans to axe more than 1,000 jobs and reduce opening hours at its flagship £189 million library.
Around 100 posts are expected to go at the Library of Birmingham, which opened in September last year, as part of plans to reduce council spending.
Unveiling the Labour-run authority's consultation on its 2015 budget, council leader Sir Albert Bore said the authority needed to make annual savings of £117 million next year.
Under the plans, announced by Sir Albert at the city's Council House, the Library of Birmingham would see its weekly opening hours slashed from 73 to 40 in April next year.
Approximately 100 of the library's 188 staff would also lose their jobs, while business, learning, music and archive services will cease, other than counter transactions, if external funding cannot be identified.
The Library of Birmingham houses one of the world's largest Shakespeare-related collections and was shortlisted for this year's Riba Stirling Prize.
The council's 133-page "white paper'', outlining its budget proposals, also contained plans to withdraw subsidies from community events and festivals, including the city's St Patrick's Day parade.
Live monitoring of CCTV footage from hundreds of council-run cameras around the city would also cease except in emergencies, although images would still be recorded.
Commenting on the plans, Sir Albert said the Library of Birmingham's debt repayments stood at £1 million a month and the authority was undergoing "profound change'' in the face of Government funding cuts.
Funding reductions meant the council had already cut to the bone and was now "scraping away'' at the bones themselves, Sir Albert claimed, adding: "This is the consequence of (Government) cuts.
"The Government's approach to distributing the cuts means that those authorities with the greatest levels of need are facing the largest percentage cuts.
"Protecting the most vulnerable of our citizens, in particular children, is our top priority and we intend to invest a further £19.9 million in child protection services from next year.
"Whatever our longer term plans, we must by law balance the books. So we have also found it necessary to propose some other reductions in services, and discontinuation of services, which we would not have considered if the cuts had been less steep.''