Labour-run Bolton Council is pressing ahead with closing a third of its libraries. Five out of 15 are being closed. At a Council meeting last night a Conservative proposal to find alternative ways of saving the £200,000 was rejected.
For the Conservatives, Cllr David Greenhalgh said:
"From the consultation ending, then it going to the executive, the scrutiny committee and here, this has been done with undue haste and has not given the right impression to communities out there who have been fighting to keep their libraries open."
Closing libraries is a bad way to save money, as is only emptying the dustbins fortnightly, or slashing funding for the voluntary sector. Bolton is keen to embrace all of these options.
I have written previously about their cuts to voluntary groups and offered some constructive alternative proposals.
Should local councils be allowed to close libraries, or only empty bins monthly? Labour-run Brent is closing six libraries and a legal challenge has been defeated although there is an appeal to come.
This is a tough test of localism but the residents of Bolton and Brent elected Labour councillors to run their affairs. This means protecting spending on waste and bureaucracy rather than front line services. It was a poor decision. But it is local democracy. Councillors are elected and are the ones who should make the decisions for which they will be held accountable. It is not for the judges to overturn them.