Leigh On Sea News: Safe For Now – SOUTHEND Labour Councillors are celebrating the removal of planned library closures from Southend City Council’s final budget papers
Safe For Now - SOUTHEND Labour Councillors are celebrating the removal of planned library closures from Southend City Council’s final budget papers
SOUTHEND Labour Councillors are celebrating the removal of planned library closures from Southend City Council’s final budget papers, which were published on January 5.
Councillors and residents have raised concerns about the Conservative administration’s plans to close up to two libraries as part of a review in the 2025/26 budget.
At a Policy and Resources meeting on February 1, Labour councillors questioned the Leader of the Council, Coun Tony Cox, about the inclusion of closures in a future budget.
Labour Leader, Coun Daniel Cowan, asked that the entire budget line be scrapped and for the Tory Administration to commit to keeping libraries open.
Coun Matt Dent, Labour and Co-operative councillor for Kursaal ward, sought specific guarantees for the future of Southchurch Library. In both cases Coun Cox refused to remove the budget line.
A press statement from the Labour Group said: “After a weekend of pressure from Labour councillors and the public, the planned closures have been scrapped from the latest budget, signalling that libraries are safe for now.”
Coun Cowan said: “I am delighted that we’ve managed to force the Tories into taking out their planned cuts to libraries.
“We were clear from the beginning that Labour would not accept any cuts or closures to library services in Southend, and although they’ve done it kicking and screaming, it seems the Tories have come around to our point of view.
“This is a welcome development, but having broken their promise on weekly bin collections, the credibility of the Tories is shot, so we know the only way to guarantee the future of libraries is to vote Labour in May.”
Coun Maxine Sadza, Shadow Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries said: “Libraries are so vital to our communities, offering so much more than a place to borrow books.
“Libraries are warm hubs, they support outreach for social care, host clubs, provide meeting places for community groups, and so much more. The Tories’ idea to close them was wrong from the start and would have ended up costing more than it saved.
“This is the right decision but we will remain vigilant as they’ve shown their true colours when it comes to community assets and resources.”