And writing for The Journal, he added: “There were times when the scale of the task seemed overwhelming and likely to leave little but the bare bones of a service. Facing the prospect of dismantling much of what we’ve achieved has been highly emotional.
“But, through this angst, I think we’ve arrived at a set of proposals which go a long way to securing a quality library and leisure service that Newcastle can continue to be very proud of.”
The final details will be confirmed when the draft budget is announced on November 20. As yet the council has not said which libraries will be closed down, but it is thought those in customer service centres are the safest.
Last night people using one Newcastle library, High Heaton, said they would fight any closure. The branch was refurbished as part of a £40m PFI deal in 2009 but city leaders have been unable to say if it is safe.
Lucy Dreyer, 32, was one of those using the library yesterday to get a card for her 11-week-old baby Max.
She said: “I read a lot for the baby, that’s why I joined. I’m just gutted that it might close and I’m very surprised. We have grown up around here, and the library’s part of the area. Can they not cut something else?”
Martin Thompson, 57, unemployed, said he goes to the library once or twice a week to do job searches. “I would be shocked if this library closed. It’s well used. It would be very difficult to find another library.”
This week, the council set out evidence that is said showed the full extent of “hugely unfair” Government cuts on the city.
Updated funding figures were released showing that by 2014 the likes of Newcastle will lose around £158 per head for essential services, while councils in the South either lose just a small amount or in some cases actually make a small financial gain.
The council had earlier warned that current projections suggest that by 2020 it will have no money for non-care services.
Misery for youngsters >>>