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Blackadder actor blasts cunning plan to close Bristol libraries

Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick in the BBC comedy, has been embroiled in a Twitter spat over proposals to axe 17 of the city's 27 libraries

Tony Robinson

Baldrick is usually the one with the cunning plan in Blackadder ­­– but he has branded Bristol councillors “stupid bastards” for plans to close libraries in the city.

Actor Tony Robinson, who starred in the BBC comedy with Rowan Atkinson and Hugh Lawrie, drew the battle lines last week and blasted: “Would stop closing Bristol’s Libraries, you stupid bastards do?”.

More than half of the city’s libraries are set to be axed to shed £4.7 million off council budgets, slashing numbers from 27 to 10 with the remaining libraries also seeing opening hours cut down.

But the former Time Team presenter’s X-rated plea was met with a fiery response online as Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy leapt to the defence of councillors. She tweeted: “Or “stop slashing councils’ budgets to the nth degree so they can afford to keep libraries open”? Bristol Council isn’t doing any of this out of choice. There is no money.

“And the councillors/mayor are really decent people being put in an almost impossible situation. None of them deserve to be called “bastards”.”

A final decisions on the future of the at-risk libraries in the city is set to be made in the spring following a review.

Councillor Asher Craig, deputy mayor for communities, said: “No final decision has been made on the future of the library service.

“A decision to defer a final decision on the library service was taken to allow for an independent options appraisal of future models to be conducted. With thanks to funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport this review is well under way and is considering alternative models for running a future ‘core’ library service.

“The types of models being considered range from an in-house council managed structure to shared community ownership models or third party provision. Alongside this review the council is also using this time to conduct its own investigation into supporting a ‘core’ service with wider library provision across the city such as community-run libraries, libraries run by volunteers or shared or co-located services with city partners. The results of these reviews are not expected until spring 2018.”

The Big Issue’s #WhyBooksMatter campaign launched a year ago in a bid to spread the word about the power of reading and literacy. Since then, we have also called on our readers to tell us who needs books the most in our Big Book Giveaway and we were inundated with responses. We even sent celebrated author Michael Rosen along to one school to hand the books over for their new library.

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