Page last updated at 10:28 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Cabinet approves library closures

Library closure protest
Hundreds of local people have protested at the cuts

Controversial plans to close a number of libraries in Wirral have been approved.

Eleven libraries will be closed and more than 20 community centres and other cultural facilities transferred to community management.

Wirral Council said a review of its libraries and museums was needed to tackle its budgetary problems.

About 20m will be reinvested in developing five multi-purpose buildings to replace those closing.

Local people objected to the cuts, with hundreds joining demonstrations in the area in recent weeks.

Following those objections, council officials modified the proposals to save three leisure centres threatened with closure.

Museum closed

Woodchurch Leisure Centre will be retained, but the council is looking for private organisations to pick up the 374,000 cost of its subsidy.

Guinea Gap Leisure Centre was given a two-year reprieve, while Leasowe Recreation Centre will be transferred into community ownership.

Libraries to close are Beechwood Library, Ridgeway Library, and those in Eastham, Higher Bebington, Hoylake, Irby, New Ferry, Prenton, Seacombe, Wallasey Village and Woodchurch.

The cabinet stressed there was no intention to close Birkenhead Central Library, which will remain open in its current location.

The library, on Borough Road, was opened in 1934 and was the country's first public library.

Wirral Museum, however, is to close but the building will be retained and a new use for it sought.

The council will continue to look for interested parties to run Pacific Road Arts Centre as an independent arts and performance venue.

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