A rally has been staged in York city centre against planned cuts to library services.

Members of the Liberal Democrats and Green Party staged the event outside York Explore Library at 4.30pm today (February 22), ahead of a crunch City of York Council budget meeting tonight.

They also presented a petition against the proposed cuts.

Labour is proposing to make a raft of cuts in a bid to save more than £14 million as it struggles to plug a projected £40 million 'black hole' in council finances over the next four years. The package of savings includes cuts of £300,000 in the contracted funding for Explore York libraries in each of the next two years.

The Liberal Democrat candidate to become the next York Outer MP, Cllr Andrew Hollyer, launched the petition. 

York Press: Cllr Andrew Hollyer spoke at the rallyCllr Andrew Hollyer spoke at the rally (Image: Harry Booth)

Cllr Hollyer, the first speaker at the rally, said: "It's brilliant to see such a large crowd gathered to show support for our libraries

"Hopefully the ground swell of support will pressure the council to rethink these cuts."

York Lib Dem leader, Cllr Nigel Ayre, said: "We will put forward an amendment this evening that will prove these cuts are not necessary."

York Explore, which operates libraries for the council, is also contesting the cuts, claiming its contract cannot be altered without mutual agreement.

The petition to "save our libraries" has passed 3,000 signatures.

York Press: York Green Party were in attendanceYork Green Party were in attendance (Image: Harry Booth)

Chair of York Green Party, Denise Craghill, also spoke at the rally, saying: "Libraries are so much more than books.

"I really hope the administration will listen to everyone."

Cllr Darryl Smalley was the executive member for libraries under the previous administration in York. Speaking at the rally, he said: "It's very hard to put into words how fantastic the libraries in York are.

"I think we can all agree that libraries are one of the things the city gets right."

He also referenced a letter York Explore sent to councillors and said: "All of us are very proud at how Explore are standing up to the council over this."

City of York Council's executive member for finance, Cllr Katie Lomas, has previously issued a statement over the proposed cuts and subsequent petition. 

Cllr Lomas said: "The Liberal Democrat petition is based on choosing not to set a prudent and sensible budget.

"We strongly believe their budget would push the council closer to issuing an effective bankruptcy notice to Government."