Labour and Lib Dems row over library futures

Cleckheaton Library. (D541B430)
Cleckheaton Library. (D541B430)

Kirklees Council’s recent ruling on the future of libraries in the area has been called in for scrutiny by the Liberal Democrat group.

A motion to question the final decisions and their basis has been signed by Cleckheaton councillors John Lawson and Andrew and Kath Pinnock, along with the six other Lib Dems that form the group.

Last month, the local authority announced that 24 of Kirklees’ 26 libraries would remain open but most would have their opening hours reduced as the budget for services was slashed from £5.7m to £1.8m.

However, Coun Kath Pinnock told the Guardian that the Lib Dems were “dissatisfied” with the level of information given to Cabinet about the decision. “Beneath the headline that 24 of the 26 libraries would remain open were huge changes which will put the futures of many of them in jeopardy,” she said.

“What we need is for Labour to come up with a policy on libraries, because they haven’t got one.”

However, Batley and Spen’s Labour MP Jo Cox criticised the move, saying that council officers had done the best job they could in difficult circumstances.

“From a starting point of considering closing all our libraries Kirklees Labour group and council officers have done the best job they could to protect as much of our library service as possible,” she said. “Attempts to derail this decision as part of a narrow political agenda is an insult to all those people who have campaigned to save our local libraries,” she said.

The issue will be raised at a meeting at Huddersfield Town Hall on October 23.