Protests over council cuts

The latest on protests against cuts to libraries, respite care centres and other services in Newcastle - and council budget plans around the North East.

Museum funding cuts may affect opening hours

Tyne & Wear Museums may have to cut opening hours to the Discovery Museum and the Laing Gallery, reduce its community learning programme, and charge for some services, because of a proposed reduction in its funding from Newcastle Council.

The council is removing all its funding of the Great North Museum (formerly the Hancock) and the Hatton Gallery over the next two years, and halving its funding of the Discovery Museum, Laing Gallery and Tyne & Wear Archives, all because of budget cuts.

The museums service will open a consultation on February 1st but says it will not start charging for entry to its core collections.

Lee Hall calls for "direct action" to save Newcastle libraries

by Lucy Taylor

He made his name through his writing, as the creator of Billy Elliot, but Lee Hall indicated he is ready to move from words to actions to save ten Newcastle libraries earmarked for closure.

The playwright had people on their feet at a campaign meeting when he called for protesters to occupy libraries.

However, the council says it simply cannot afford to keep the libraries going, because of budget cuts.

Meanwhile in Middlesbrough, councillors discussed whether they can afford to freeze council tax. The mayor Ray Mallon opposes the proposal, saying it would leave a black hole in the council's finances.

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Lee Hall condemns library closures

The Newcastle born writer Lee Hall has called for direct action to protect the regions libraries.

He was speaking at a meeting being held on Tyneside tonight to protest over proposed council cuts which could see many libraries closed.

"No other council is suggesting such a pre-emotive and comprehensive cut to libraries because it doesn't add up....

If we don't get smarter, and more aggressive, we will lose our libraries. They do not have to make these cuts."

– Lee Hall

Hundreds attend Middlesbrough meeting

Hundreds of people gathered tonight at a public meeting in Middlesbrough being held to discuss proposed library closures.

The writer Anne Cleeves, who created the television series 'Vera', told the public meeting that it would not have been written without the help of public libraries.

She has recently taken a tour of all the libraries threatened with closure in Newcastle.

Full Report: Respite centres facing council cuts

by Lucy Taylor

Campaigners lobbied the council to save two respite care centres in Newcastle. Cheviot View offers short stays to disabled children and Castle Dene does the same for disabled adults, to give their carers a break.

The council is seeking a cheaper alternative, which may include transferring the services to a private company or charity.

Full Report: Protests over proposals to close libraries

Writers and residents will gather in Newcastle city centre tonight to protest about the closure of ten libraries.

The council says that ninety per cent of people will still be one mile and a half from a library, but today our Education correspondent Dan Ashby visited Dinnington, where people told him that the library is integral to the community.

You can see the full report from him below.

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