Civic cuts: Mayor pushes through plan to axe half of council libraries

More than half of Doncaster's libraries will have their council funding withdrawn from April after elected mayor Peter Davies and his cabinet pushed through budget cuts yesterday.

At present the borough has 26 libraries. but this will be reduced to 12 "core libraries" under a hugely unpopular plan which the mayor claims will save the council 1.5m in staff and running costs.

Yesterday a council spokesman said the authority would invite "expressions of interest" from community groups who wanted to keep under-threat sites open, but admitted it was likely that most would shut.

On Wednesday last week, Mayor Davies attended a public meeting at Bawtry Library, which will close under his plans, but angrily left after claiming it had been "hijacked" by protesters.

Last night a spokesman for Save Doncaster's Libraries, which is due to hold a series of sit-ins at libraries across the borough described the mayor's decision as "devastating".

The spokesman added: "Doncaster is a struggling town with a failed council. It needs its libraries more than ever, and this devastating package of cuts can only serve to further limit the libraries' and the council's ability to improve literacy, wellbeing, social cohesion, a sense of community and civic pride.

"The council should be ashamed of themselves for showing so little regard to the needs of their citizens and such contempt to the views of the people of Doncaster."

Doncaster Council has to save 73m over the next four years unde the coalition Government's austerity measures and slashing library services has been on the agenda at Doncaster Council since last summer.

Mayor Davies refused to discuss his proposals after the meeting yesterday.