Somerset

Director Ken Loach joins hundreds in Bath library move plan protest

Ken Loach
Image caption Ken Loach, who lives in the city, said the current library was a "big feature in the centre of Bath"

Hundreds of protesters, including film director Ken Loach, gathered in Bath to demonstrate against plans to move the city's central library.

Bath and North East Somerset Council is considering the move in an attempt to save £800,000 a year.

However, campaigners say the new base would be smaller and not meet demand.

Mr Loach said the library was a "big feature in the centre of Bath" and putting it somewhere "less accessible" was a "bad sign".

"The library is very well-used... [and] really expresses something of the community of the city which is hard to find now," the Bath-based film director said.

Public consultation

The campaigners gathered on Tuesday evening as the authority set its 2017-18 budget with one of the proposals to move the library to nearby Manvers Street.

Conservative councillor Keith Gerrish, who is responsible for finance and efficiency, told the budget and council tax meeting a public consultation would now be going ahead "in respect of the proposal".

However, he said: "The implications indentified refer to future years and are not part of the budget we are proposing tonight for 2017-18".

Mr Gerrish added that any move was still subject to public consultation and would form part of a future business case.

Image caption The budget for 2017-18 was voted through by 36 to 24 votes

The proposed new location would be owned by the council rather than leased, as it is currently, and this would "contribute to an annual saving of £800,000".

The meeting also heard the authority needed to make £49m of savings over the next four years with £14.5m in savings required for 2017-18. Some £13.2m of this would be through "increased efficiency and new and innovative ways to generate income".

Councillors also heard £1.3m would be achieved through changing the way some local services are delivered.

The budget for 2017-18 was voted through by 36 to 24 votes. The authority's part of council tax will rise by 3.5% - an increase of £52 per year on a Band D property.

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