Plans to axe dozen libraries criticised

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THE chairman of a support group for a library under threat of closure has slammed Wakefield Council chiefs for hitting a “soft target”.

Wakefield Council is seeking to save £800,000 a year by off-loading 12 libraries to voluntary organisations.

The dozen libraries will close before March 2013 unless viable alternatives for running them are lodged with the council by October 31 this year.

Outwood Library is one of the 12 libraries which are under threat of being axed.

Karl Grubb, chairman of Supporters of Outwood Library, said his group is seeking an alternative building as Outwood Library is currently housed in a portable building.

He added: “Libraries are a soft target. We need a purpose built new building and we have not got the funds to do that.

“But we haven’t given up he fight and we are still trying to find an alternative building for the library.”

Council chiefs say groups can apply for a share of £100,000 to help with rescue plans.

Just four community groups have expressed an interest in taking over one of the dozen libraries at risk of closure.

Mr Grubb’s group has not applied to take over running the library. He said: “If the council gave us part of the £100,000, it is still a drop in the ocean. The council’s argument is that less is more. They are trying to put a positive spin on the idea. They are closing libraries and it just doesn’t wash.”

Libraries under threat of closure are Ackworth, Altofts, Balne Lane Community Centre at Wakefield, Havercroft, Kinsley, Kettlethorpe, Middlestown, Outwood, South Kirkby, South Pontefract, Upton and Walton.

The 14 libraries to remain open and under council control are Wakefield One, Horbury, Ossett, Sandal, Stanley, Castleford Forum, Airedale, Feathersone, Knottingley, Normanton, Pontefract, Hemsworth, South Elmsall and Crofton.

The council says it will invest £1m to improve the mobile library service and the 14 libraries it continues to operate.

Council chiefs say just 14.5 per cent of residents are regular library users. Wakefield Council’s cabinet committee is set to approve the proposals when it meets on Tuesday, July 31.

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