Books, photo Rodrigo Galindez (Creative Commons)

Books, photo Rodrigo Galindez (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Tom Baldwin, Bristol Socialist Party

Library campaigners in Bristol are celebrating – the service has been granted a temporary reprieve from cuts.

Bristol’s Labour mayor Marvin Rees had proposed closing 17 libraries, more than half of all in the city. The council cabinet was due to decide which would face the chop next month.

But following an outcry from the public, it has been forced to delay the decision by at least four months.

The future of Bristol’s libraries is far from guaranteed. Other options under consideration including libraries sharing sites with other services, which could still mean cuts.

But this setback for the cuts programme is very significant. The rethink was triggered by a small rebellion of Labour councillors who voted for a Lib Dem motion on libraries, against their party group and mayor.

This follows growing pressure from below in the Labour Party. The cracks are beginning to show in the council’s assertion that it has no choice. Members are looking for alternatives.

The party’s ‘local campaign forum’ recently voted to demand the mayor use reserves and borrowing to stop cuts. The Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance has been invited to put this case to Labour branches. Now it seems that pressure is reflected by some councillors too.

Anti-cuts campaigners will not be taking anything for granted. We will keep up the pressure to make this stay of execution permanent, and to stop all cuts to jobs and services.