Councillors accused over library closures

COUNCIL chiefs were accused of ‘rubber stamping’ changes to libraries which will see facilities in Thornhill Lees axed.

Lib Dems on Kirklees Council won a review over fears that recommendations from officials were not looked at thoroughly enough.

The party’s councillors in Cleckheaton backed the move which Labour MP Jo Cox then criticised.

North Kirklees escaped the worst of library cuts last month, but there are job losses and shorter opening hours.

Coun Andrew Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) disputed a claim from Mrs Cox that the ‘call-in’ would put libraries in the district back under threat.

He said: “What we’re trying to do is highlight how the report is very light on how libraries will be managed.

“Cleckheaton is losing 16 hours a week from its opening times, but there is nothing about how that will work or pan out across the rest of Kirklees.”

One concern is that users visit Cleckheaton from areas without a library, including Gomersal, Liversedge and Birkenshaw.

If, for example, all libraries shut at the same time then those who need to travel would have access problems.

Coun Pinnock added: “Officers can make all sorts of recommendations, but the ultimate decision is a political one. The report backing up those recommendations is weak and we think it should be examined in detail.”

A public scrutiny meeting takes place at Huddersfield Town Hall on Friday, October 23 at 9.30am.

Coun Pinnock added: “Kirklees is a difficult authority to manage. In North Kirklees we’ve a lot of quite big libraries. But in South Kirklees there’s one big one, Huddersfield, a medium-sized one at Holmfirth and then lots of smaller ones.”


Issues back in spotlight

AN MP has tried to bring councillors in Cleckheaton to book by claiming that local libraries could be at risk again. 

The area’s three Lib Dem representatives on Kirklees Council backed their party’s request to ‘call in’ changes for scrutiny. As a result a meeting is due to take place at Huddersfield Town Hall on Friday October 23 at 9.30am.

MP Jo Cox (Lab, Batley and Spen) believes this may re-open debate about the four libraries in her constituency.

Thousands of people signed petitions in favour of retaining services at Batley, Birstall, Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike.

Mrs Cox said: “Attempts to derail this decision as part of a narrow political agenda is an insult to all those people who campaigned to save our four libraries.”

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