LIBRARIES are to be closed down across Newcastle as the next round of spending cuts begins.
The vast majority of Newcastle’s 18 libraries will either be closed down or handed over to community groups as city chiefs set out £90m of cuts over the next three years.
Only the newly-rebuilt city centre library is said to be safe from the axe. Branch libraries at Blakelaw, Cruddas Park, Denton Burn, Dinnington, Fawdon, Fenham, High Heaton, Jesmond, Moorside, Newbiggin Hall and Walker could all be under threat.
Council bosses will confirm final numbers next week, but are expected to say that those libraries not already part of a customer service centre or shared with another council facility will be axed.
Even those locations will come under closer scrutiny to see if community groups can take over.
The council has said it has no choice but to try to save £7m from the library budget, some 40% of the money handed to such cultural services over three years.
The move comes just 12 months after Newcastle’s Labour leadership saved library services from the cuts in their last budget.
Now officers say they have no choice but to start closing down branches. Library services director Tony Durcan said the council had to ask were libraries and leisure affordable in an age of austerity?
He told The Journal that over the next three years most of the council’s current library provision would go, either through closure or as a result of the service being taken over by other groups.
He said: “We are in this position because frankly we cannot go on as we were before. We face significant spending cuts and that will have a substantial impact on our budget.
“It is part of wider changes to the entire culture and leisure budgets and that is the reality of the situation we find ourselves in.”