Libraries future up for debate next week

Libraries future up for debate next week

VOLUNTEERS could help run Cleckheaton Library, a councillor said after details of a closure consultation were revealed.

Coun Andrew Pinnock (Lib Dem) is set to speak at a debate next Wednesday on the future of libraries.

He helped collect nearly 4,000 signatures on a petition urging Kirklees not to axe Cleckheaton library as part of a £1.85m budget cut.

Coun Pinnock said: “One of the points I will be making is that Cleckheaton Library is not just for the town of Cleckheaton.

“It serves a much wider area, from Birkenshaw to Scholes and Liversedge, and should therefore stay.”

He is against a complete takeover by volunteers and said: “It would not be suitable to be run by the community but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work with volunteers working alongside staff. But I believe it still needs to be run by the council.”

In the consultation, Birstall Library turned out to be the third most visited after Dewsbury and Batley.

With 118,485 users in 2013/14, it is more popular than  Cleckheaton and Mirfield.

But just 167 people signed a petition against closure compared to 3,903 and 3,000 respectively in the other towns.

Petitions in favour of Batley and Heckmondwike libraries attracted 11,010 and 2,498 names.

The consultation, run by Qa Research of York, will inform how a new structure will work.

More than 5,000 people gave their views on issues such as reduced opening hours and replacing librarians with volunteers.

Despite the debate, at Huddersfield Town Hall at 6pm on Wednesday, a decision is not due until autumn.

Cabinet member for resources Coun Graham Turner (Lab) said: “I want to preserve as much of the service as we can.

“The feedback received will help us make the decisions on the library service of the future.”

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