Budget cuts on Isle of Wight leads to 500 job losses

Image caption,
Mark Chiverton of Unison says libraries are at the centre of local towns

More than 500 jobs have been axed on the Isle of Wight after £18m of budget cuts were approved by councillors.

In talks which ran late into Wednesday, the Conservative-led council also rubber-stamped plans to close five libraries and 27 public toilets.

The Wight bus will also be axed as well as funding from the Waterside Pool.

Protests were held outside the civic centre in Newport but council leader David Pugh said the cuts had to be made to balance the books.

It will make £18m of savings from April as part of a four-year savings plan of £32m.

The council said it had made some concessions in light of the public backlash and had originally intended to close nine out of 11 libraries on the island.

Although funding is being withdrawn for the Waterside Pool, £100,000 will be earmarked for it if it is taken over by the community.

'Maintain pressure'

About 12 public toilets could stay open if they are taken on by volunteers.

The council has agreed to freeze council tax.

Librarians on the island staged a strike on Wednesday ahead of the budget meeting.

Mark Chiverton, of Unison, said: "Libraries are not just about books - they are very much at the centre of local towns and particularly villages.

"It's important that we do maintain the pressure, people feel strongly about the service and there is still a massive cutback - we're talking about five libraries to go altogether and four more to be very reduced."

Conservative councillor David Pugh said: "We do agree with the overall thrust of what the government is doing.

"We do share the concerns that other councils have for the front loading because it has made it that bit more difficult, but that's the decision made and that's what we have to work with and we need to deliver a balanced budget."

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