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MP pledges to fight Derbyshire library cuts

High Peak MP Ruth George, pictured with campaigners outside Hadfield Library.
High Peak MP Ruth George, pictured with campaigners outside Hadfield Library.

High Peak MP Ruth George said she was "disappointed, but not surprised" after Derbyshire County Council voted to proceed with a consultation on cuts to libraries across the county.

Earlier this year, the county council approved £12 million in cuts for 2018, in order to meet a target of £53 million by 2021. The proposal to hand 20 of the county’s least-used libraries over to volunteers and review opening hours and staffing is aimed at saving the authority £1.6 million.

A 12-week consultation on the library proposals will start on Monday May 7 after being rubber-stamped at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Mrs George, who has launched a petition against the cuts, said: "I am disappointed, but not surprised that Derbyshire County Council's Conservative-run Cabinet has voted to go ahead with their consultation on cuts to libraries across the county.

"The decision shows that the Tory cabinet members do not understand the vital role that libraries play in our communities, nor the impact their plans will have. It is in stark contrast to their election pledge last May to protect libraries from cuts and closure threats.

“When Labour ran the county council up until last May, our libraries we not only protected but invested in, with new buildings where needed, including the new Glossop library which was planned and delivered by Labour.

“Libraries provide a vital and much-needed service to some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities – whether it’s to borrow a book, go for advice, or to use the computer.

"With the introduction of Universal Credit this year – under which applications and the constant updates can only be completed online – libraries, offering free access to the internet and trained staff, will become even more important.

"Library staff are one of the only sources of advice for making online claims and it is a travesty for the Council to seek to get rid of them when they are needed more than ever.

“I will continue to work closely with residents in Gamesley, Hadfield, Hayfield, Whaley Bridge and across High Peak and Derbyshire to oppose these cuts – including a county-wide petition. The Conservatives' proposals have already met widespread opposition – and I am sure that will grow over the coming weeks."