Birmingham's cabinet member for culture says the Library of Birmingham remains a fantastic facility for learning and tourism despite brutal cuts being implemented later this year.

Labour cabinet member Penny Holbrook also described the decision to make £1.3 million cuts to the Library as the most difficult she has faced in her political role.

She was appearing before the council’s culture scrutiny committee just days after it was confirmed that opening hours at the iconic Library were being cut from 73 per week to 40 and that about 90 staff would be made redundant.

There will also be cuts to exhibitions, extra services and charges for some previously free services.

Coun Holbrook (Lab, Stockland Green) said: “The Library has been one of the most difficult decisions of my year in this role. Especially as I understand, through the consultation, how much people love that Library and how much it means to the city.”

She said that given the council’s dire budget situation that no service, even the brand new Library, could be left untouched.

But added that dire warnings that this is the beginning of the end for the public library were wide of the mark.

“It is still going to be there, it is still going to be an excellent place for learning and culture.

“We are not closing it and we are not selling it it to a large national retail chain or anything like that,” she said.

With the council’s subsidies for arts, museums, culture and major events like the St Patrick’s Day Parade being cut back Coun Holbrook said they are looking at other ways to support the sector - and are working with the Birmingham Arts Partnership on the idea of a Birmingham Cultural Pound.

“This indicates that to continue Birmingham’s cultural offer at its current rate will cost £8.8 million a year, with the council contribution falling. We will have to look to other sectors in Birmingham to meet this need.”

Committee member Coun Meirion Jenkins (Cons, Sutton Four Oaks) said that he hoped she did not mean a hotel tax or any other enforced charge on visitors and tourists.

Coun Holbrook replied that businesses, particularly in the tourism trade, would be asked to help, not taxed. “It is not in our gift to create a hotel room tax. There are a number of businesses that benefit from the city’s cultural offer

and there are a number of businesses and organisations with corporate social responsibility budgets across Birmingham,” she added.