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Godsiff takes fight against £1.5m library cuts to Parliament

Godsiff takes fight against £1.5m library cuts to Parliament

🕔14.Jan 2015

MPs are being urged to join a campaign to prevent the city council from cutting £1.5 million from the annual budget of the Library of Birmingham.

Hall Green MP Roger Godsiff (Lab) has raised the plight of the Centenary Square building in an Early Day Motion in which he claims the loss of 100 jobs at the library and a 40 per cent reduction in opening hours will “destroy library services in Birmingham”.

The cut to the LoB funding is being proposed by the city’s controlling Labour group as part of a £72 million budget reduction which the council says it is forced to make as a result of “savage” cuts in Government grant.

But Mr Godsiff notes that the Government’s austerity programme is the result of attempts to reduce the UK’s budget deficit which was caused by banks recklessly lending money. He says Ministers should be clamping down on “corporate tax avoidance” rather than taking money off councils.

Mr Godsiff is careful to blame the Government for the library’s plight, rather than the city council. But his remarks are likely to be seen at the Council House as a thinly-disguised attack on the Labour cabinet’s decision to target the LoB for savings in its proposed 2015-16 budget.

The full text of the EDM is: “That this House notes with great concern the plans to severely cut the funding available to the Library of Birmingham, which would result in the loss of more than half of the library’s staff and many of its services, including the loss of archive and research facilities;

“Observes that Birmingham City Council’s funding from central Government has been cut heavily over the course of the current Government, and that poorer cities such as Birmingham have received a disproportionately heavy share of spending cuts;

“Condemns the decision to cut Birmingham’s funding by an amount equivalent to £147 per household this year, compared to the national average of just £45;

“Does not see why the citizens of Birmingham should have their library services destroyed in an attempt to cut a deficit that was caused by paying for the gambling debts of bankers, not by supporting essential cultural services for UK citizens;

“Encourages the Government to take serious and concerted action to reclaim for the Exchequer the many billions of public funds which are currently lost to corporate tax avoidance; strongly supports the attempt to find alternate ways to keep the library open and maintain it as a centre of excellence, and wishes this campaign every success;

“Believes that the whole of the UK would be the poorer without its world-class libraries, which play a vital role in education and research; and calls on the Government to urgently reconsider its ongoing slashing of local government funding.”

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