Calderdale visitor centres, libraries and activity complex to be axed in council cuts
Councillors have approved more cuts totalling around £800,000 to make enough savings to balance its books from 2021-22.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet approved proposals which include closing authority-run car boot sales; visitor information centres at Hebden Bridge and Halifax; Mixenden Activity Centre, Halifax, and a number of branch libraries across the district.
The library closures – Greetland, Hipperholme, Mytholmroyd, Ripponden, Shelf, Skircoat, Stainland and Southowram – form part of £2 million of annual savings already proposed by the council last month.
But senior councillors re-iterated that options for others, including community groups, town and parish councils and volunteers, to run any of these services, including possible asset transfers, would be considered.
Additional savings identified relating to household waste services and recycling would be dealt with as part of the annual budget process in the coming months.
The council is looking to save an estimated £15 million from its budget in 2021-22, with the ongoing effect of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting finances hard.
Cabinet member for Resources, Coun Silvia Dacre (Lab, Todmorden) reminded councillors the council had undergone ten years of funding cuts.
“There are no more ways we can avoid making cuts by efficiency drives – it has already been done. There is no option but to start doing this now.
“The financial situation is so bad we can’t wait, we have to put things in place to make the savings possible,” she said.
Savings have to come from services which the council is not legally required, she said.
Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park), Cabinet member for Public Services and Communities, said interest had been shown by groups wanting to take over four of the eight libraries.
Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said alternative arrangements for Hebden Bridge Visitor Centre were being explored with Hebden Royd Town Council.
But Conservative group leader Coun Steven Leigh (Ryburn) confirmed his group would be calling in the decision for scrutiny.
He agreed timing of proposals made it difficult for consultation and proper debate.
Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) said he recognised decisions had to be made but there were alternative ways of providing some services in a more cost effective way.
Coun Geraldine Carter (Con, Ryburn) said not much time was given for parties interested in taking over buildings to sort out the financial packages needed.
Liberal Democrat group leader Coun James Baker (Warley) said he agreed the Government had failed to provide councils with adequate funding but was concerned at the short notice given of proposed cuts, making it difficult to examine alternatives.
Representatives in other groups could provide help making these tough decisions, accepting the ruling Labour group had a mandate to make them.
“Take the olive branch. Work with us a bit more because we all want the best for our borough,” he said.