Libraries’ future is still uncertain

Kinsley library
Kinsley library

WAKEFIELD Council has decided to go ahead with plans to cut funding to four libraries in the Express area.

It was decided at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting to go ahead with plans to create ‘hubs’ across the district, which means Upton, Kinsley, South Kirkby and Havercroft libraries are all at risk of closure if another organisation does not come forward to take them on.

But Kinsley and Fitzwilliam Community Resource Centre has already started making plans to take over Kinsley library, which is joined to their building on Wakefield Road.

Wayne Jenkins, chairman of the management committee at the centre, said: “We have made a bid to run the library as part of the centre’s activities. It is a great opportunity to incorporate the library into the learning and community-based services offered by the centre. Our plans include an increase in opening hours as well as providing a wider range of courses.”

He said plans would be ready to present to Wakefield Council – who said it would offer £150,000 funding to help such groups – during the consultation period, which starts in September. And Coun Laurie Harrison is hoping to relocate South Kirkby Library and offer a better service.

But as yet, there are no plans to take over the remaining libraries.

Paul Franklin, headteacher at Upton Primary School, said he was disgusted at the decision.

He said: “I am shocked and appalled. The library has always been an inextricable link between the school - it is a huge resource to us. Reading forms the basis of all learning and it will be detrimental to children’s education if that facility is taken away. It will catastrophic for the school as well as the local community.”

Hemsworth and South Elmsall libraries will become ‘hubs’ and remain council-run – although not necessarily in the same buildings.

Coun Maureen Cummings, cabinet member for environment and communities, said at the meeting they had realise that due to changes in technology people were learning and reading in different ways. She said: “I do feel we have to change.”

Coun Peter Box, leader of the council, said: “I hope that all libraries can stay open in one form or another. We need to work with group and communities who have expressed interest already to run the libraries.”