A council defended “out-of-touch” cuts to library services and plans to charge to use tennis courts by saying it would not be closing libraries.

The Liberal Democrat opposition at Haringey Council proposed an amendment to the authority’s annual budget on Monday (March 4), which would have reversed plans to slash library opening hours.

Impacted branches include Alexandra Park, Coombes Croft, Highgate, Muswell Hill, St Ann's, Stroud Green and Harringay.

The measures come as part of a 31% cut to the libraries budget - £700,000 in the year from April – although the council has committed to keeping all branches open.

Plans for the year from April 2025 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.

The Lib Dems also proposed cancelling the introduction of charges to use tennis courts in parks, and stopping spending on council social media ads.

And they criticised plans to bring the running borough's leisure services back in-house after external contractor Fusion's contract was terminated over repeated pool closures.

Opposition leader Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison said: “Ask any resident in Haringey, and I am confident they would prioritise libraries and tennis courts over pointless insourcing and money the council spends on promoting itself.

“Unlike this out-of-touch budget, our Lib Dem amendments will prioritise the services which are valued most by residents.”

The Liberal Democrat amendment was voted down by Labour on Monday evening, with the council’s budget subsequently waved through.

Responding to the Liberal Democrats, Haringey Council said the reduction in the libraries budget was “based on efficiencies, not cuts”, and that it would be co-producing its libraries strategy with local people and staff.

Cllr Emily Arkell, cabinet member for culture, communities and leisure, said: “We are keeping all our libraries open, unlike many other boroughs, and investing millions so they can flourish and thrive.”

She added: "We are investing £480,000 to ensure our residents have the very best tennis facilities in our parks.

“The introduction of a charge at the newly refurbished tennis courts from 4pm on weekdays and during the weekend will be reinvested into their maintenance and brings them into line with courts at other parks.”