LABOUR in Southampton have been accused of breaking a manifesto pledge to protect the city’s libraries by one of its former councillors.

Andrew Pope has accused his former party colleagues of “lying” to the city’s residents after they put forward plans to stop running six libraries, three years after a manifesto pledge to keep them open.

But Labour council bosses say they are operating in a different world than before they came to power in 2012, and must find £90m of savings to meet ongoing Government cuts.

As revealed in the Daily Echo earlier this week, Cobbett Road, Burgess Road, Thornhill, Weston and Millbrook libraries could all close next year.

Labour council chiefs are looking at plans to save £286,000 a year and shed six jobs to stop running the facilities, although they insist they will remain open if community groups step in.

Now Redbridge councillor Andrew Pope, who left Labour after the party’s General Election defeat to become an Independent, has taken another swipe at his former colleagues.

He referred to a line in Labour’s pledges made before the party came to power in 2012, which says: “We will keep local libraries and Sure Start centres open and expand the services they offer”.

He said: “I’m totally outraged at the idea that a Labour council can close libraries in poor areas.

“Not only that but Labour lied to the public in 2012 when they said the would keep libraries open in their manifesto pledge.

“Some of them, such as Cllr Kaur are putting their careers ahead of their principles.

“The biggest impact will be on children. They will be losing out on access to books and reading at an early age which is vital to allow them to get on in their lives."

and lots of adults will now not have access to a wider range of education than they would have done.”

Hitting back, Cllr Kaur said: “I think the world we lived in then is very, very different to the world we live in now.

“We have had to save more than £70m and we are looking to save an additional £90m.

“If we had a Labour Government right now the funding cuts to local authorities would be a lot fairer then they are right now.

“We are trying to deal with the cards we have been dealt, but the consultation shows we can still run an efficient library service.”

She denied claims that she was “putting her career ahead of her principles”.

, she said: “I think it’s the case that all cabinet members are working extremely hard and are dedicating a lot of time to ensure we serve Southampton in a very difficult time.”