Anger at 'systematic destruction' of public services in Calderdale ward
A councillor has hit out at proposals to close his ward’s local library, claiming they amount to a “systematic destruction” of his ward’s cultural and public provision.
Coun George Robinson (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) has begun a petition to save Hipperholme Library and argues its closure is unacceptable following the decision to close nearby Bailiff Bridge Library.
The closure is part of a number of proposed cuts to library and other services which Calderdale Council is being asked to approve when it meets virtually on Monday, October 5, from 6pm, with the meeting screened on the council’s YouTube channel.
Together the proposed annual cash savings of around £2 million a year are essential as the council struggles to balance its books next year, largely because of the financial hit to its income caused by COVID-19, say the briefing papers to Cabinet members.
But Coun Robinson says Hipperholme’s cultural and service offer is being hit by the potential loss of not just one library but two, taking the Bailiff Bridge decision into account.
Coun Robinson says Hipperholme Library is well used, ranked fifth out of Calderdale’s 13 libraries based on the available usage figures but is one of five libraries facing the axe.
“This is totally unacceptable. We will have lost two libraries in under three years, why is Hipperholme and Lightcliffe Ward being unfairly singled out?
“Libraries are a vital resource for young people. I remember printing off my project work at Hipperholme Library when I was younger.
“They improve social mobility by providing free internet access, and are an important resource for older residents who use the library as a community hub.
“This is especially important given the affect that lockdown has had on mental wellbeing.
“It seems that my ward is yet again being unfairly targeted,” he said.
The petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/calderdale-council-save-hipperholme-library
Coun Robinson said some residents have already asked if the library can be run by the community and he says he would support this proposal to ensure the library remains a community asset.
The proposals to Cabinet would keep hub libraries and some community libraries open but others would be earmarked for closure.
On the issue of the proposed service cuts and savings generally, Leader of Calderdale Council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) has said: “All councillors are well aware of the huge financial pressures faced by Calderdale and other councils as a result of Covid, and the likely funding shortfall of £15 million next year.
“I believe the residents of Calderdale will expect us to act responsibly and start work now on the tough choices we face in addressing these pressures and carrying out our legal responsibility to deliver a balanced budget.
“If the Liberal Democrats or the Conservative group have specific proposals on how these issues should be addressed, we look forward to seeing them.”