Kirklees proposes 'nuclear' library closures

Kirklees proposes 'nuclear' library closures

Kirklees Council could close all but two of its 26 libraries as it looks to slash its library budget by more than half.

One option suggested by the council, which is aiming to cut its annual library budget from £6.3m to £2.8 by 2017, would see all the libraries in the region except Huddersfield and Dewsbury closing down, with 100 jobs lost.

A second option would see the two libraries kept open alongside a number of "community-led hubs" and a home delivery service, with 60 jobs cut. The council said this option would cost an extra £1.4m compared to the first option.

Kirklees Council leader David Sheared called the first proposal a "nuclear option". He said in a statement quoted by the Huddersfield Daily Examiner: "I believe it’s an extremely brave group that goes for the first option, but we’ll have to consider everything next March. To give option two a chance over the nuclear option will mean we have to find savings elsewhere. There are no magic beans, we’ll have to look at all the costs.”

Kirklees Council’s customer services’ assistant director Jane Brady said the council would look at transferring libraries to friends groups and other organisations, and said: "I’d say to the public: get involved in making positive decisions for your community and help us shape this."

The options will be considered by the council next month before going to public consultation. The results will be discussed in December, before a final decision is made next February.

Library campaigners in Lincolnshire recently won a high court battle to force the council to rethink their library closure plans, which would have seen around 30 libraries passed to volunteers, with only 15 kept under council control.