Campaigners have slammed 'senseless' cuts to the library service that could lead to opening hours being cut and librarians replaced with volunteers.

Haringey Council is cutting £700,000 from its libraries budget in the year from April, with plans to reduce opening hours across branch libraries at Alexandra Park, Coombes Croft, Highgate, Muswell Hill, St Ann's, Stroud Green and Harringay.

Plans for the following year would move libraries to a 'self-service' model, with users given a keycard to enter library buildings, professional librarians replaced with volunteers, no toilet access without staff present and no CCTV monitoring.

Haringey Council's lead member for culture, communities and leisure, Cllr Emily Arkell, has promised no library closures, but campaigners say the knock-on effects of reducing services may ultimately lead to their closure.

Peter Beardsley, a friend of Stroud Green and Harringay Library, said the libraries are under "poorly managed decline", explaining Stroud Green - currently open for 57 hours a week - may be cut to less than 34 hours. 

Ham & High: Labour's Cllr Eldridge Culverwell (left) stands outside Stroud Green & Harringay Library with local resident Guido EgidiLabour's Cllr Eldridge Culverwell (left) stands outside Stroud Green & Harringay Library with local resident Guido Egidi (Image: Clive Carter)

Cllr Scott Emery, a Lib Dem Highgate councillor, said: "Labour’s proposed cuts, reducing hours and removing librarians, are senseless.

"Lib Dems in Haringey will continue to fight against the cuts to Highgate Library and other libraries in the borough."

Former Lib Dem councillor Clive Carter said: "The council has spent a lot of money remodelling libraries and now they are going to go into another slide.

"They've said no closures but what exactly do they propose cutting back, particularly in the next following years?" 

He also said that if the 30 senior managers on salaries of more than £100,000 would take a 10% cut, they "would not notice" and cuts to the library service could be avoided. 

"Senior management proposes cuts to services but never to their own salaries," he added.

Cllr Arkell said Haringey has invested millions of pounds in recent years to make libraries "fit for the future".

“At a time when other local authorities are closing their libraries, we’re improving ours and reopening them," she said.

“We have to be innovative because budgets are tight and the next few years are not going to be easy. This won’t be simple or straightforward."

She said key decisions will be made with residents, library staff and friends groups to ensure "high-quality, successful libraries".

The council says it pays all its staff according to nationally agreed terms and conditions.