Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Libraries to close in three weeks

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

The first of a series of library closures in Wirral will take place in three weeks.

Wirral Borough Council has revealed a timetable for the controversial closure of its 11 facilities, which will take place over four months.

Higher Bebington, New Ferry, Ridgeway and Wallasey Village libraries have been given a notice of closure, effective from 6 April.

Meetings with staff affected by the closures are under way.

Phase two of the closure programme will see Irby, Preston and Seacombe libraries shut on 4 May.

But Beechwood, Eastham, Hoylake and Woodchurch will remain open until 4 July.

MP complaints

"A dedicated team has been established to implement the closures, including the transfer of book stock and the removal of IT equipment from other libraries," a council spokesman said.

"Meetings are taking place with staff affected by the closures to discuss the re-structure of the service and the options that are available to them, such as early retirement, voluntary severance or redeployment."

Ben Chapman, Labour MP for Wirral South, is presenting a petition to Parliament on Tuesday calling for Eastham Library not to be axed.

Mr Chapman said Eastham was not on the original list earmarked for closure and should not be included in the round of closures.

Fellow Labour MP Stephen Hesford, for Wirral West, has lodged an official complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman claiming the consultation process was "flawed".

The closures, including a number of community and leisure buildings, are part of a the authority's strategic asset review.

The council opted to go ahead with the closures despite protests from hundreds of residents.

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