Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 16:37 UK

Library grant of 830,000 awarded

Library closure protest
Funding has been approved for the rest of the financial year

Councillors have approved £830,000 of funding to fill a shortfall following the local authority's U-turn over the closure of 11 libraries in Wirral.

Wirral Council reversed the closure plans last month after recommendations from a public inquiry ordered by the then Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham.

At a meeting on Monday the Labour and Liberal Democrat cabinet allocated the money to help run the libraries.

The initial decision to axe the libraries prompted public protests.

Wirral MPs Stephen Hesford and Ben Chapman supported public opposition to the plans when they were revealed in November.

'Political gain'

At Monday's meeting, Conservative councillors called on the Labour and Lib Dem cabinet members to resign over their handling of the issue.

Opposition councillors also refused to back the funding plans, which cover the rest of the financial year.

The Conservative leader, Councillor Jeff Green, said: "We refused to back the funding resolution after the Labour/Liberal Democrat administration would not apologise for the libraries situation."

The council is a hung administration made up of 20 Labour members, 20 Lib Dems, 24 Conservatives and one Independent.

Council leader Steve Foulkes, a Labour councillor, said: "I am now totally convinced that the Conservatives are using this issue for their own political gain."

The original plan to close the libraries was drawn up in a bid to make budget savings.

In April, Mr Burnham put the closure plans on hold and ordered a public inquiry to determine if the council was complying with its statutory duty to provide a "comprehensive and efficient" library service.

The council reversed its plans last month after the initial recommendations of Sue Charteris, who chaired the inquiry.

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