DOZENS of library workers face the axe after Bury Council leaders made a controversial U-turn.

They have ditched the plan to create community hubs — despite many people favouring the move in a public consultation. But Labour leaders are adamant all the borough’s libraries will remain open.

The new plan is to axe the equivalent of 20 full time staff, saving £518,000. This will be a mix of full and part-time workers and it is not yet known how many staff would be laid off.

Earlier this year, the council’s ruling Labour authority tabled plans to move Unsworth Library into Sunnybank Community Centre, transfer Radcliffe Library into Radcliffe Civic Hall, and move learning disability day services into Whitefield Library and Prestwich Library.

Budget cuts due to the financial downturn means town hall bosses had to shave £570,000 off its £3.2 million annual budget.

But a new report being discussed by councillors at a Cabinet meeting at Bolton Road Methodist Church, Bury, last night (Wed July 10) shows that proposal is no longer on the table.

While consulting residents on the idea, the council decided it would prove too expensive and “not value for money.”

A council report says: “It is clear the investment required is significantly higher than originally anticipated at a time when council income looks set to reduce again.

“Furthermore, the financial position is now such that the business case will not facilitate a contribution towards the running costs of the civic halls at Prestwich and Radcliffe as previously hoped in the short-to-medium term.”

The report says savings will be made by “exploiting efficiencies from the use of self-service technology.”

The plan is for the council to spend £156,400 on installing equipment, furniture and IT at “the council’s main libraries” so people will be able to serve themselves.

The report adds: “The council is already having to make difficult decisions to achieve savings of £24.6 million of cuts and it is likely to worsen significantly given recent indications from the findings of the 2013 Comprehensive Spending Review.”