Takeover opens new chapter for libraries

Community group set to take over Havercroft library after the council pulled funding.'Maureen Cummins, Albert Manifield and Faith Heptinstall
Community group set to take over Havercroft library after the council pulled funding.'Maureen Cummins, Albert Manifield and Faith Heptinstall

TWO library services have been saved from closure thanks to the dedication of community groups.

Wakefield Council decided to offload some of the area’s libraries earlier this year as part of its budget cuts and relied on groups to come forward to run them.

Libraries at Havercroft and Kinsley were earmarked to close, but after months of uncertainly, both are set to relaunch later this month at their respective learning centres.

Havercroft and Ryhill Community Learning Centre will open its library service on Tuesday, November 27 followed by Kinsley and Fitzwilliam Learning and Community Centre on Friday, November 30.

The new libraries will be run and funded by community groups, which will provide their own books and services.

Centre manager at Kinsley, Michelle Raynor, was glad to have taken it over.

She said: “It’s always a sad occasion when you see community buildings close down, especially a library as I am an advocate of reading. We always agreed that if the library was set to close we would try and make room for it here.”

The centre will offer one quarter of the books currently held at the library on Wakefield Road but will rotate these with the remainder of literature.

Mrs Raynor said: “Hopefully people who use the library will see and use our services and also the other way around so it will mean better numbers all round.”

Faith Heptinstall, centre manager at Havercroft and Ryhill Community Learning Centre, said: “We are really looking forward to developing this new facility within the centre and welcoming members, both new and existing to the centre.”

They will each get part of a £100,000 council grant to help set up the service.

The council-run library services at Havercroft Library on Cow Lane, and Kinsley and Fitzwilliam Library on Wakefield Road in Kinsley, will close on October 31.

Upton Library on Waggon Lane is still under threat from closure but there have been some discussions of plans to take it over.

No-one has yet come forward to take over South Kirkby Library on Stockingate. It was closed temporarily in May after it was flooded by rain.

The deadline for other groups to put together bids to take over libraries is October 31.

If no suitable groups are found, they will close on November 30. It has not yet been decided what will happen to the buildings.

The council will still run libraries at South Elmsall and Hemsworth, which will be classed as ‘hub’ libraries and modernised.

Plans are set to include more consistent opening, six days a week and an improved and amalgamated mobile/home library service.