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Anti-cuts campaigners force town hall rethink on Hackney libraries job losses

PUBLISHED: 12:28 25 July 2011 | UPDATED: 13:06 25 July 2011

Maggie Waterfall, 4, at the libraries protest outside the town hall on Wednesday July 20

Maggie Waterfall, 4, at the libraries protest outside the town hall on Wednesday July 20

Anti-cuts campaigners forced council bosses to rethink proposed job losses in Hackney’s libraries this week after taking their fight to the town hall.

Protesters held a demonstration ahead of the full council meeting on Wednesday (July 20) against proposals they say could see the ‘slow death’ of the borough’s library services.

The council has been consulting on money-saving plans, including reducing the number of library jobs by a quarter, from 104 to 76, and changes to opening times.

But more than two and a half thousand people signed petitions or wrote letters in protest and Unison, the public sector trade union, took their complaints to the town hall.

Matthew Waterfall, secretary of Unison’s Hackney branch, said council bosses had agreed to drop any plans for compulsory redundancies or downgrading of staff.

“We had some good ideas for finding savings in other areas, which they accepted,” he said.

But a council spokeswoman would only confirm that Hackney Council’s cabinet member for health, culture and social care, Cllr Jonathan McShane, would broach the petitioners’ concerns with senior management and that no decisions had been made.

Cllr McShane said: “Hackney Council is committed to keeping all eight libraries open and maintaining some of the longest opening hours in the country. However, cuts imposed by central government mean we have to find savings to ensure the long term sustainability of our library service. We have been discussing proposals designed to deliver these savings with staff in order to find a way forward together.”

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