Thousands sign petitions over Middlesbrough council cuts

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More than 17,000 people have signed petitions against cuts to services in Middlesbrough, the council has said.

The planned closure of youth centres and libraries has also prompted about 800 letters to the borough council.

The authority has said it must cut almost £14m from its budget by 2013, and is proposing to cut 120 jobs.

A final decision on budget cuts is due to be taken in March. People have until 20 January to express their views on cuts.

Middlesbrough, which has a Labour majority but is led by independent mayor Ray Mallon, needs to save a total of £50m over the next four years.

Mr Mallon said: "These are difficult decisions which no-one wants to make, and that's why a full, open and genuine consultation exercise was of the utmost importance.

"We have been left in no doubt as to how strongly people feel about the local services Middlesbrough Council provides, and I'm grateful to all those who shared their views with us."

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