Two libraries, 80 jobs go at Kirklees

Two libraries, 80 jobs go at Kirklees

Kirklees Council has approved plans to close two libraries and cut 88 jobs, The Huddersfield Daily Examiner has reported.

The council’s cabinet members have “reluctantly” agreed to a “huge cost-cutting shake-up” which will see only eight of its current 26 libraries fully controlled and opening hours "vastly" reduced.

The plans will mean the loss of 88 full-time roles, which could possibly amount to more than 100 employees as many hold part-time positions.

The council has said they will support communities to run a further 16 small libraries with one member of paid staff to advise volunteers.

Plans for the libraries to be run by volunteers alone with no council support have officially been dropped, so any of the 16 that are unable to achieve adequate levels of community back up could be at threat of closure.

The six-vehicle mobile library service will be axed after being deemed “poor value for money”.

The decision comes after four years of “threats” to libraries as the council aims to cut £1.8m from its £5.7m library service budget.

Cllr Graham Turner, cabinet member for resources, said: “It’s clear what we’re proposing will impact the residents of Kirklees. But I believe it will impact them as little as possible. The reality is while we have a government that does not believe in public services we will have to make very difficult decisions.

“I have to be the bad guy, but it’s worth saying again, I believe in public services.”

Council leader, Cllr David Sheard, said while 478 libraries had already closed across the country, none had closed yet in Kirklees. He said: “we are trying to keep as many open as possible.”

Deputy leader of the Conservative group, Cllr David Hall, said: “Yet again, those communities outside of the town centres are having their services slashed.

“The mobile library service is so valuable to many people, particularly the elderly, who otherwise cannot gain access to a library.

“Labour’s cuts are all about choices: they have chosen to inflict this unnecessary service reduction instead of identifying savings elsewhere.”

Thornhill Lees and Lepton libraries are set to close in April 2016.

Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Batley, Cleckheaton, Mirfield, Birstall, Heckmondwike and Holmfirth libraries are set to be fully staffed by professional librarians, while it is hoped that the remaining 16 libraries, largely in small villages or suburbs of Huddersfield, will be run by one council employee backed by community volunteers. Some may have their premises transferred to community ownership.

Libraries proposed to become community run are: Almondbury, Birkby/Fartown, Chestnut Centre at Sheepridge, Denby Dale, Golcar, Greenwood Centre at Ravensthorpe, Honley, Kirkheaton, Kirkburton, Lindley, Marsden, Meltham, Rawthorpe, Dalton, Shepley, Skelmanthorpe and Slaithwaite.

Some will open just a few days per week with Kirkheaton possibly only opening once a week.

Volunteers from "Friends Of" groups will be able to open their libraries when the paid staff are not available.