Libraries on hit list again

Protesters gather at Skircoat Green library to protest against library cuts.
Protesters gather at Skircoat Green library to protest against library cuts.
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CLOSING libraries, reducing opening hours and stopping mobile library services are just some of the options residents are being asked to choose to save money.

Libraries are under threat again, despite £400,000 already being knocked off their budget.

Calderdale Council has announced another £150,000 has to be saved from library buildings and vehicles.

Consultation, which opens today, is asking residents to choose from six cost-cutting options:

l Stop all mobile library services, saving £150,000

l Concentrate mobile services on people who are housebound or in residential care, saving £100,000

l Concentrate mobile services on people who are housebound or in residential care and also communities more than two miles from a library, saving £70,000

l Reduce opening hours at six large libraries, such as Halifax Central Library and King Cross, from 45 hours to 37 hours per week, saving £20,000

l Reduce opening hours at five medium sized libraries, such as Skircoat Green Library, to a standard 25 hours per week, saving £20,000

l Close some libraries, saving £150,000.

Cabinet member for Safer and Stronger Communities, Pauline Nash said: “The council has already worked hard to make savings and this has been achieved through better technology, smarter working and keeping a close eye on the purse strings.

“But the reality is that we still need to make further savings across the service. The council will consider a number of options and we are keen to have people’s thoughts and ideas.”

Library user Pat Brewster said although users would manage if hours were cut, she would rather see a full day’s closure than shorter opening hours.

“I don’t see closures as an option. Which one would you close without affected a huge number of people?

“If you close Skircoat Green library it would be very traumatic.”

Mrs Brewster said she had used the library service all her life, and in recent years the staff at Skircoat Green library were responsible for not only helping with choosing her books but putting her online.

Faye Fielding from Mythomroyd said she has been a library user all her life. “They offer friendly and helpful assistance and I’m able to order books that I’ve read about.

“Local libraries are part of the community and a place where you can meet people and chat about books that you’ve read.

“If Mytholmroyd Library shut I’d have to go somewhere else but I would really miss it and its cosiness.”

A final decision will be made in November.

The consultation will close on October 23.

A trio of drop-in sessions will be held for feedback and questions. The first is at Central Library on September 24 from 9.30am to 5pm, another will be at Todmorden library on September 26 from 1pm to 7.30pm, the final one will be at Brighouse Library on September 27 from 1pm to 7pm.

Options will be discussed at ward forums and the council’s Safer and Stronger Communities panel will review an interim report at its meeting on September 29.