Half of Wakefield’s libraries set to close

Protesters are campaigning to keep Outwood library open. Three year old library member Lucy Hill (front) and Karl Grubb (right)

Protesters are campaigning to keep Outwood library open. Three year old library member Lucy Hill (front) and Karl Grubb (right)

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NEARLY half of the district’s libraries will close if community groups do not step in to run them.

Wakefield Council bosses announced earlier this month that they will no longer run libraries in 12 areas.

And a cabinet committee approved the plan this morning.

Outwood, Walton, Balne Lane, South Kirkby and South Pontefract libraries look set to close by March next year, as no community groups have come forward with viable business plans.

There will also be no replacement service in Middlestown, following the demolition of the village library last year.

Community groups have expressed an interest in running libraries in Havercroft, Kettlethorpe, Altofts, Ackworth, Kinsley and Upton, and will have access to a £100,000 start-up fund provided by the council.

But no transfers have been confirmed – and even if deals are struck the groups would have to supply, fund and staff the libraries themselves.

The council will continue to run the other 14 libraries, known as ‘hubs’, including the new Wakefield One which will open in the autumn on Burton Street.

And the council will invest £1m into improving the home and mobile library services.

The changes will save the council about £800,000 a year.

And Coun David Dagger said the new system had “almost universal support” following three years of consultation with library users and staff.

He said: “Cabinet does need to get big decisions right and at times these are not easy decisions. If no viable proposals come forward then these areas’ libraries will close.”