'Biggest demo' over Surrey library cuts

Protesters fighting Surrey library cuts have said they are planning the biggest protest at County Hall in years.

The demonstration by library campaigners and the public sector union Unison is due to take place outside a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The union said protesters from every library in Surrey would be at the demo.

The county council has said devolving responsibilities at its 52 libraries would help save £400,000 a year and prevent any closures.

Unison said representatives from all of Surrey's threatened libraries had held a "council of war".

The union said the council proposals were flawed, there had been no open public consultation, and the council had only used financial criteria and had not considered social and community issues.

Budget 'stretched'

It said each library was aiming to get at least 10 people at the protest and one library had said it might need to hire a coach.

Members of Women's Institutes across the county were also set to join representatives from Unison and the Friends of Surrey Libraries.

The council wants local communities to take over 11 libraries.

Councillor Denise Saliagopoulos, cabinet member for community services, said the council had to save more than £200m over four years and was trying to stretch a smaller budget to keep all 52 of Surrey's libraries open.

She said the local authority had come up with a solution to keep open 11 branches but needed the support of library users to succeed.

Under the plans, the council would continue to provide buildings, stock, IT equipment and other services, but communities would take over the day-to-day running of some libraries.

The council is currently holding talks with users of the 11 libraries involved.

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