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Library services stay open despite Tory cuts – Shadow Minister books in visit to Bristol Council

Newly appointed Shadow Communities Minister, Stephen Morgan MP has visited Labour-run Bristol Council to hear about the ground-breaking work they have been conducting to safeguard their libraries.

Guided by Mayor Marvin Rees, the Portsmouth South MP was shown exactly how under Labour leadership the council has been relying on fresh, innovate ideas to overcome national Tory austerity

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Since 2010, under the Tories, nationally some 100 libraries have closed each year. Here in Bristol, Mayor Marvin Rees’ Labour administration have kept every single library open and are investing in the service.

“Labour councils are facing budget cuts from the Government which are three-times worse than those faced by Tory authorities.

As I saw first-hand in Bristol, despite the continuing ideological austerity, Labour-run councils are protecting people’s services.”

Since the Tories came to power, 817 Libraries have been shut or handed to volunteers, leaving 3,660 struggling on as councils try to balance the books.

The latest figures show that more than 100 libraries a year are closing because of government cuts and a quarter of the budget for them has been axed in the past eight years, going from £1billion in 2010 to £741million last year.

Mr Morgan said:

“For some, libraries are a quiet haven to escape to. For others, they are a learning environment that could be the key to unlocking their potential.

From refugees trying to learn English upon arrival to this country to school children reading their first book on their own, the untold value that libraries hold in our communities and plethora of ways they enrich our society are unprecedented.

The vital work being conducted by Labour-led Bristol Council, that I have been fortunate to visit, is an example of local authorities standing in the face of Tory austerity and winning.

The fact that every library has remained open despite these savage cuts means that we must learn best-practice from the dedicated individuals responsible.”

Labour Mayor, Marvin Rees who accompanied the Shadow Minister said:

“I was delighted to welcome Stephen back to our city today, sharing how our Labour council is delivering for Bristol.

Working with local communities, we are proud to have protected each and every one of Bristol’s local libraries – extending opening hours and safeguarding them from central Government cuts.

“This is testament to our hard work to turn around the dire council finances which we inherited, and to our commitment to protecting frontline council services while cutting a million pounds a year out of council senior management.”

The Portsmouth South MP, who returned to his university stomping ground to observe these progressive strides, has expressed a commitment and preference for getting out and meeting people on the front line of service delivery.

In his first month on the frontbenches Mr Morgan has already visited two pioneering Labour councils, setting the precedent for an active time in office.

Commenting further on his visit, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“It’s great to be in Bristol – a city that is thinking big about the challenges it faces. In Marvin and his team the city has strong local leadership and an ambitious plan for the future.

After nearly ten years of Tory austerity, £5.9 billion being stripped from local government by 2020, it’s good to see how despite challenging circumstances and inheriting a huge budget deficit, the Labour Mayor and Labour Council are delivering for Bristol’s communities and proactively working with others to create a fair, healthy and sustainable city.

Bristol is a special place for me, the city where I was the first in my family to go to university. It’s been really inspiring to see how through the One City Plan, Bristol is encouraging young people from often forgotten communities to aim high and give them the helping hand to achieve”.