North Kirklees MPs say there must be a way to save library services

Mike Wood MP (D552H412)
Mike Wood MP (D552H412)

MPs have said there must be another way to deal with a funding shortfall that could lead to the closure of all but two libraries in Kirklees.

Simon Reevell (Con, Dewsbury) blamed Kirklees Council for the threat to services, but Mike Wood (Lab, Batley and Spen) said government cuts were the root of the problem.

The first option outlined 
by the council would slash libraries by 56 per cent and leave only Huddersfield and Dewsbury libraries open across the entire district.

The second option, which would require a grant, could leave North Kirklees with a number of town hub libraries with reduced staff and facilities, but the council could not yet confirm where the hubs would be.

Mr Reevell (Con, Dewsbury) said the situation was a result of under-performance by the council.

He said: “Any properly run organisation would not be talking about a nuclear option.

“Any properly run organisation would have planned, evaluated and prioritised. It is short-term thinking.

“Lots of local authorities are being asked to save a lot of money. I don’t accept those are the only options.”

But Kirklees Council leader David Sheard (Lab) hit back.

“What is his suggestion?” he said. “We wouldn’t be talking about a nuclear option if we didn’t have £140m cut from our budget every year.”

He said that cuts on a national level left councils with no choice but to slash services.

“Even the second option for libraries is tough but we are at that stage,” he said.

“The same thing will happen to parks.

“We can’t stop paying for people who need care in homes, we can’t stop paying for child protection. This is the situation we face.

“Local authorities have had to cut more and cut better than central government.”

Mr Reevell said Denby Dale Library, which had been transferred to the control of a community project, was an example of residents becoming tired of Kirklees Council.

But Coun Sheard said the transfer happened because the council had worked alongside parish councillors to make it possible.

Mr Wood said: “I am very concerned that all four of the libraries in Batley and Spen are under threat. This is not something I want to see nor my constituents.

“I have no doubt this is something our councillors don’t want either.

“These are the sorts of cuts that will be impossible to reverse in the future.

“Councillors are in an impossible position trying to implement vicious Coalition cuts, while Conservative and Lib Dem councillors snipe from the side lines as though this has nothing to do with them and their colleagues in Westminster.

“But I hope that we can find alternatives and I will work with colleagues in the council and the community to avoid such a dire eventuality.”