AWARD-winning Liverpool children’s author Alan Gibbons has called for a campaign to save the city’s under-threat libraries.
This week the city council announced it will close half its libraries next year to help save around £1m.
Mr Gibbons has campaigned nationally against library closures and now wants a re-think on the city’s plans.
The Labour-run council insists it has no choice due to a huge reduction in government grants – it needs to save £32m from its budget for the financial year which starts in April.
The authority has also said it will close its two municipal golf courses – at Allerton and Kirkby – if a private operator cannot be found or a £300,000 annual loss cannot be stemmed by increasing charges.
Social services to the most vulnerable are also being slashed and council tax will increase by 1.8% from April – a £23.55 annual increase for band D homes.
Liverpool currently has 19 libraries at present but the council thinks it can save around £938,000 (from April 2014) by closing around 10.
It is examining plans to keep a seven day service at Central Library and at two community libraries.
It will also have a cluster of smaller libraries, open shorter hours and will be staffed “flexibly to meet local needs”.
The council’s hands are tied because it has to pay £1.95m for the PFI [Private Finance Initiative] for 30 years for the revamp of Central Library – due to reopen in May.
In a letter to The Post Mr Gibbons sad: “I understand that the government’s failed austerity measures, policies which are plunging the country into a continuing slump, are the main reason for councils' present financial difficulties.
“I cannot, in all good conscience, stand by and watch these cuts proceed without protest however.
“Five years after being City of Culture, can we really embark on such catastrophic service reductions?”
In 2010 he organised an open letter to the government about library closures which gained high-profile backing including from Philip Pullman and Frank Cottrell-Boyce.
He added:“We need not only our new central library but a thriving network of branch libraries to complement it.
“I, and many of my fellow authors, will stand with our councillors in any joint campaign against government cuts but I would condemn in the strongest terms any decision to go through with such drastic and counter-productive measures.”
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said: “This has been a horrendous process in which we have had to make some difficult and hard choices in order to balance the books for the next financial year, but also to prepare for the following year.”