Politicians discuss axe-facing Batley and Spen libraries

Interested parties gathered to discuss the future of Kirklees' libraries.
Interested parties gathered to discuss the future of Kirklees' libraries.

Tracy Brabin MP was among the politicians at a cross-party meeting involving representatives from 'friends of' library groups from across Batley and Spen.

They met to discuss the future of four libraries that are facing extinction after mass cuts to library funding brought it to less than half of its 2015 figure.

In the last two years, Kirklees Council’s library budget has been slashed by £1.8m - with a further £1.9m planned.

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin, who chaired the meeting, said: “Libraries are a vital part of our community and they are something we should fight for, as I have done in the past.

“They are the only places you can go and no one asks you what you’re doing there. A place that supports the most vulnerable and often the most lonely. They’re also somewhere people can go that’s free.

“But we cannot ignore the fact that Kirklees Council is being forced to make extremely difficult decisions against the backdrop of a Conservative Government insistent on stripping local councils to the bare bones.

“What we need to look at is how we can make libraries sustainable, future-proof institutions so they can continue to benefit people for generations to come.

“We have to ask where our libraries will be in ten years’ time. And it was clear at the meeting that people are thinking about their long-term futures.

“I applaud their spirit and conviction and it was very encouraging to hear how passionately people feel about their local libraries.

“But in the short-term, it is important to make sure your voice is heard and with that in mind, I urge everyone who has an interest to take part in the ongoing consultation about the future of Kirklees libraries - don’t stay silent.”

The well-attended meeting heard numerous suggestions of what can be done to help sustain libraries in the future.

These included housing locally-owned cafes, retail spaces such as craft and arts shops, language schools, adult education, sponsors for libraries, utilising part of the buildings for other council/ NHS services and creative workspaces.