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Nottingham library closures: Labour group vote could be a step to saving three facilities

Nottingham City Council’s ruling Labour Group has opted to save three under-threat libraries from closure by just two votes during a private meeting.

Nottingham City Council has proposed to shut Radford-Lenton Library, Aspley Library and Basford Library as part of its efforts to urgently save money and produce a balanced budget.

But the plans have faced fierce opposition and a campaign group, Save Nottingham Libraries, was established to fight against them.

 

While the proposals are due to be discussed and formally approved at a public meeting of executive councillors towards the end of November, the Save Nottingham Libraries group learned of a behind-closed-doors Labour Group meeting at Loxley House on the evening of November 7.

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Labour Group members had agreed to save Aspley Library and Radford-Lenton Library. The vote on November 7 was to determine the fate of Basford Library, and whether or not it should close. Members voted to keep Basford Library open, the only vote on the night.

After a stalemate, where the votes were tied at 20-20, a final ballot ended at 21 votes to save all three, and 19 votes to save just one.

Although the council is Labour-dominated, the vote is not an official council decision – but an indication of the ruling Labour group’s wishes when the final decision is made in public at the end of the month.

Stewart Halforty, from the campaign group, said:

“We’ve always known it would be the Labour Group that would decide whether or not they would close.

“They are bound by collective responsibility so we knew if we did not win them over at Labour Group, then we would not win them at council later on, otherwise [councillors] could lose their whip.

“This is what we had been working towards, convincing enough Labour councillors to vote to save them.

“Apparently it [the vote] was split. We are incredibly relieved. We are not complacent and we will be converting the campaign group into a ‘Friends of Nottingham Libraries’ group.

“We are in contact with other campaigns across the country with what to do next.”

The council continues to be monitored by a Government-approved improvement board, appointed upon the collapse of Robin Hood Energy to make sure the authority is brought back on a stable financial footing.

Nottingham City Council hoped the library closures would save £233,000 every year, however a restructuring of front-line services then knocked £154,000 off the total, meaning shutting the three sites would have only saved a remaining £79,000 each year.

Council officers will now reflect on the outcome of the Labour Group’s vote.

Councillors will then make a formal decision during a public meeting of the executive on November 22.

A Nottingham City Council spokesman added: “Councils are not able to comment on discussions at political meetings.

“We will be able to say more once any proposals have been formally put forward by the authority to the relevant committee for decision.”

The Nottingham Labour Group was contacted for further comment, but had not responded by time of publication.

•  Plans could save three Nottingham libraries

•  Nottinghamshire libraries will be protected from closure until 2025

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