Radio Sandwell Local News

Police called as Library of Birmingham protesters stage sit in

2015-05-16 09:29:33

Library of BirminghamDemonstrators leaving the Library of Birmingham after sit-in

Police were called to the Library of Birmingham as 30 students staged a sit-in protest over cuts to opening hours.

The students refused to leave as the building closed at its new earlier time of 5pm on Friday night, and demanded to speak with council management.

Eventually two police officers were called to negotiate with the group and they left at 6.30pm.

The protesters were angry at the cut in opening times from 73 hours per week to just 40, with the flagship building closed all day on Sundays and in the evenings.

Protester Zoe Salnitro said: “The library should be open until 8pm on Fridays. We have students and residents who want to use it, who want to study. The people of this city need it to be open.

”She said the group would be meeting with fellow campaigners on Monday to discuss the next stage of the protest.

Fellow protester student Nick Cooke said: “The cuts to the library and other front-line services in Birmingham have hit many people badly.

“We live in a city with high levels of poverty and people need services like the library more than ever.

”As students sat inside the library a group of sympathisers gathered outside in Centenary Square to show their support with a banner while visitors approached the building only to turn away disappointed.

Bob Whitehead, of the Friends of the Library of Birmingham, said: “These are a group of young students and sixth formers who use this place a lot.

They are aspiring to improve their future and are being stopped from doing so by the cuts.

”The Labour-run city council claims it cannot afford to run the library as it did when it opened in September 2013 and has slashed £1.3 million from its £10m annual budget.

The cuts led to 100 redundancies as a result.The authority has also been saddled with £12 million per year loan repayments to cover the £188 million construction cost.

Library of BirminghamPolice officers going into the Library of Birmingham

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