Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Library Charges Fury; Rise in Fees as City Council Struggles to Balance the Books

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Library Charges Fury; Rise in Fees as City Council Struggles to Balance the Books

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDY HUGHES

LIBRARIES will charge for book reservations in a bleak new chapter dubbed 'a tax on reading'.

Newcastle Council chiefs are introducing a rise in fees and charges in an attempt to cope with a shortfall in funding.

But the plans have come under fire from politicians who say increasing prices will punish readers.

The move comes after the Chronicle revealed up to half of the city's 18 libraries could be turned into self-service book borrowing points.

Labour opposition leader Nick Forbes said: "This halfbaked idea by the Lib Dems shows their plans for cutting back on library services is driven by cost rather than quality of service.

"For many people, libraries are a lifeline service. The authority should be encouraging people to read, but by implementing increased fees, charges and fines, they are doing the opposite.

"There is also a rise in room hire, which will clearly harm the many community groups who use the libraries to meet. …

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