Communities set to lose libraries

LIBRARIES will close if community groups cannot step in to save them by the end of October.

People in Outwood and Walton look set to lose their local libraries by March next year, as Wakefield Council will no longer run them and no community groups have come forward with viable business plans.

There are no plans to replace Middlestown Library, which was demolished last year, or reopen Balne Lane Library, which shut in January.

But community groups are hoping to take on the running of libraries in Altofts, Kettlethorpe and Havercroft.

And the remaining city libraries will continue to be run by the council.

The council announced its plans on Wednesday, and a final decision will be made at a cabinet meeting on July 31.

Karl Grubb, of the Supporters of Outwood Library (SOUL) group, has fought to keep the library open since the review began.

He said: “I am disappointed but not surprised. It’s a huge loss because the library is a centre for the community and used for a number of different events and occasions, not just books.”

Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) statistics showed that Wakefield’s libraries were poorly funded and had low book stocks compared to those in other areas.

Mr Grubb added: “The council have been killing libraries for years. This review wouldn’t have been needed if they had invested more into the service.”

Local author Jonathan Pile, who set up a petition to help keep Crofton Library open, said he was pleased it had survived.

He said: “I’m delighted we have got a victory. There will be a lot of people in Crofton who were uncertain who will now be reassured.”

Groups have until October 31 to apply to take on the running of the libraries facing closure.

They would get a share of a £100,000 set-up fund but would have to provide their own books and services.

Up to 21 jobs could go, but council bosses said it was likely the cuts would be met voluntarily.

Coun David Dagger, cabinet member with responsibility for libraries, said: “We’ve already had a lot of interest from groups, and I would encourage them to put together bids in time for the deadline.”