Some 300 people packed into a central Newcastle hall on Wednesday of last week to rally against library closures.
The size of the rally, organised by the Save Newcastle Libraries campaign, reflects the deep anger at the cuts.
The meeting came after Newcastle’s Labour council announced plans to slash £100 million from its budget.
This includes closing ten of the city’s 18 libraries, a staggering 100 percent cut to arts funding and the loss of 1,600 jobs.
Labour leader of the council Nick Forbes admitted that the cuts are “damaging” and “unnecessary” but blames the Tories.
Yet speakers rejected this idea and urged Labour councillors, workers and residents to resist the cuts.
North East author Ann Cleeves recounted stories of library staff reading letters to those who could not read.
She added that many people rely on libraries for access to computers and the internet.
Perhaps the loudest cheers of the night were reserved for Lee Hall, author of Billy Elliott, who urged people to occupy their libraries.
Lee said there is scope to build alliances with anti-cuts Labour members and to put pressure on Labour councillors to break the line.
The Save Newcastle Libraries campaign has collected 3,500 signatures opposing library cuts.
The campaign has also pledged to support the “Stop the Cuts—Save Our Services—March & Rally” on Saturday 16 February.
To find out more go to savenewcastlelibraries.org
Councillors form anti-cuts group
A group of Labour and ex-Labour councillors have formed a new group, Councillors Against Cuts.
It said, “We are a new network of local councillors formed to support the fight against cuts.
“We believe that instead of implementing the Coalition’s cuts, councils and councillors should refuse to do so and help workers and communities organise in resistance.”