Jobs cuts spell ‘slow death’ for Hackney’s libraries

Proposed job cuts could spell a “slow death” for Hackney’s libraries despite the council’s promises to protect them, trade unionists have warned.

Members of Hackney Unison, the public services union, voted unanimously to back a vote of no confidence in the council’s head of libraries Ted Rogers last week over their concerns about cutbacks to frontline staff.

They fear that plans to reduce the number of library posts by a quarter – from 104 to 76 – will see the decline of the service, increasing theft while reducing the number of events and facilities on offer to the public.

This comes despite the council’s pledge earlier this year to keep all of its eight libraries open in the face of government cutbacks.

Hackney Unison Branch Secretary, Matthew Waterfall said: “There will be hardly enough staff to keep the doors open. This is a slow death sentence for the library service.”

Cllr Jonathan McShane, Hackney Council’s cabinet member for health, social care and culture, denied the claims.

He said: “Hackney Council is committed to keeping all eight libraries open and maintaining some of the longest opening hours in the country.

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“However, cuts imposed by central government mean we need to find savings to ensure the long term sustainability of our library service.

“As part of this, the unions and libraries staff have been asked for their views.

“As with any process like this, we will take these on board while ensuring that we create a service that continues to deliver the high standards that residents in Hackney want and deserve.”

The council’s consultation with staff ends on 17 June.