Cabinet made to rethink libraries call

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

Kirklees Council’s Cabinet has been told to reconsider its decision on the future of libraries in the area.

The local authority’s Scrutiny Committee made the call following an intervention by the Liberal Democrat group, who tabled a number of objections to the decision.

Although 24 of Kirklees’ 26 libraries will be kept open to the relief of campaign groups, Lib Dem councillors have expressed concern about the impact reduced working hours and increased need for volunteers could have on their long-term futures.

Some libraries will become completely staffed by unpaid community volunteers to keep them open.

One of those behind the motion, Coun Andrew Pinnock, said: “I hope that Cabinet will genuinely look at this again and reconsider the policy on opening hours. Cleckheaton Library for example will be reduced from 51 to 35 hours and I daren’t imagine what that means in terms of how it will be spread across days of the week.

“If you run the hours down, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy (to close it).”

Liversedge and Gomersal councillor Simon Alvy (Labour) said that the council had done the best they could.

“It’s always a shame when hours have to be cut, but I think we’ve got the best result possible, if not one even better than that,” he said.

“I wouldn’t like to speculate on what will happen five or ten years into the future, because we don’t know what will happen with our budgets by then.”

Huddersfield-born poet Simon Armitage intervened on the matter this week, insisting all libraries in the area should remain open.

“As well as providing a vital resource and an essential service, offering access to the world through reading and the internet, libraries are part of every community’s identity,” he said.