Libraries may be saved but jobs to be lost

Batley library. (D512C430)

Batley library. (D512C430)

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Most of the libraries in North Kirklees could be saved while up to 100 jobs could be axed as the long struggle against cuts comes to a head.

Our area’s main libraries, in Dewsbury, Batley, Birstall, Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike, will be saved and remained staffed if Kirklees Council’s Cabinet approves a proposal next week.

But Thornhill Lees Library, the mobile library service and up to 100 jobs across Kirklees would face the axe.

Friends of Heckmondwike Library chairman Chris Martin said: “While any reduction in library services is a terrible loss to communities, we are pleased that these proposals mean that a public library will remain in Heckmondwike.

“However it appears that there will still be substantial cuts to opening hours and staffing levels, which is disappointing.”

Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox (Lab) said: “This is a great victory. It is fantastic news and a welcome relief for thousands of local people who were desperate to save their valuable community resources and vital lifelines for so many people.

“This is a great result and the right result, and I am delighted that the council has listened and taken on board the concerns and feelings of my constituents.

“It is a real shame that there will be cuts to services and staffing elsewhere in Kirklees but credit must go to the library staff, officers and Labour’s Coun Graham Turner and his colleagues who have work so hard on this and, in spite of the scale of cuts they’re having to deal with, have come up with a plan that saves virtually the whole service.”

Cabinet will meet at Huddersfield Town Hall on Tuesday September 22, 5pm to make its decision.

The decision will follow years of uncertainty and will arrive just over 12 months since Kirklees Council revealed the scale of the cuts it faced and the effect they could have on public services.

The final plan means £1.8m cut will be cut from the £5.7m library budget and only eight of its 26 libraries will be fully funded.

The hours that libraries across the district are open will be slashed by 40 per cent.

Huddersfield and Holmfirth libraries are the only ones outside of North Kirklees that will continue to be fully staffed.

Ravensthorpe Library would become community run, which would mean a single member of staff would oversee the centre with volunteers filling in the rest.

Libraries in this category will be reviewed in the future to see if the number of volunteer hours made them sustainable.