UK Towns and cities tags:
Campaign forces suspension of Wirral library closures
Following a four-month campaign by local communities and the opportunist intervention of local politicians of all parties, Wirral council's library closure programme has been suspended. Secretary of State for Culture, Andy Burnham, 'called in' the decision, for a public inquiry.
Dave Lunn, Wirral Against the Cuts (WAC) steering committee, personal capacity
The first four libraries due for closure on 4 April will remain open for now. This gives a limited breathing space during which campaigners can prepare for the next round of struggle.
Preparation includes strengthening links between the anti-cuts groups, a clear plan of action to mobilise around, and a renewed appeal to the council workforce. Any facilities under threat must continue to be resolutely defended!
It is unclear at this stage whether the suspension will also be applied to the planned closure of other leisure facilities including leisure centres and swimming baths.
What is clear is that the suspension is only a temporary victory. The inquiry will only look at whether the council's controversial Strategic Asset Review (SAR) is consistent with its statutory duty.
Indeed the Labour leader of Wirral council has already stated in the local press that he is "confident the inquiry would support the authority's plans to close the libraries".
The local Tories have called for Lib Dem and Labour council cabinet members to resign, which is a demand echoed by the people of Wirral. But would the Tories act differently if in power?
They too are a neo-liberal party committed to privatisation, cuts in services, and spending restrictions.
If the Tories were in power, even if they didn't go ahead with these closures, they would make cuts elsewhere!
This is why WAC has been set up to fight all these attacks on our services and importantly to provide a viable anti cuts/pro public services alternative to the three main parties at next year's council elections.
WAC is meeting again on 9 April. Whilst we cautiously welcome the suspension of the council's closure plans, Socialist Party members will be proposing that we take our campaign more widely into our communities.
By taking part in peaceful direct action and by coming out to vote for WAC candidates in next year's council elections, the people of Wirral can send a clear message to both local and national politicians that they will not accept these cuts.