RESIDENTS will now be asked whether seven Merseyside libraries should be closed to help a council save £43.7m.
Sefton councillors voted to consult the public on the controversial measures yesterday as they desperately attempt to balance their books.
The idea will now be put to reisdents during a two-and-a-half month process.
Libraries in Ainsdale, Aintree, Birkdale, Churchtown, Crosby, Litherland and Orrell in Bootle will be closed over the next two years if the move is given the go-ahead at next February’s crucial budget meeting.
Until then library users across the borough will be given the opportunity to have their say. Consultation over the scheme is expected to begin on October 29 and last through to January 14.
Council leader Cllr Peter Dowd admitted library closures were a sensitive subject, but insisted cuts had to be made.
He said: “It is one of those areas of public services which does quite rightly raise concern and passion from people.
“Nevertheless and not withstanding that we are in the situation where in the next two years we have to make £43m of savings.”
Cllr Dowd added it was vital the public sent in their ideas for library cuts during the consultation process because they would be considered.
The decision gave a reprieve to libraries in Formby, Bootle and Crosby – where Crosby Library is likely to be saved at the expense of the town’s College Road facility.
All were facing the axe in the most severe proposals put before the council’s cabinet at Bootle town hall.