Town council to fight for libraries

TOWN councillors have vowed to fight to keep Hemsworth and Kinsley libraries open for the public.

Community groups and private businesses have been asked to help run the district’s libraries in a bid to balance the books.

Wakefield Council has asked interested parties - including town and parish councils - to complete a questionnaire in order to find out what interest there is.

It has said that libraries could close if alternative ways of running them are not found.

Hemsworth Town councillors voted not to fill in the survey at a meeting on Tuesday in case Wakefield Council took them up on any suggestions without looking at other options.

The discussion came after town clerk Tina Pattison and Coun Tony Upson attended a consultation event in Pontefract.

Mrs Pattison told councillors that Wakefield Council had a statutory duty to provide a core library service but what that involved was unclear.

She said: “I asked if Hemsworth Library was taken over by another organisation if it would still be based in the council library building.

“I was told it could be based elsewhere, in which case they would look to selling the building.”

Coun Ann Westmorland said: “Both libraries are well used and they cannot take Hemsworth or Kinsley out of the buildings and plonk them somewhere else.

Hemsworth Library - the seventh most used in the district - and Kinsley Library - the 21st most used out of 26 - are both housed in relatively new, purpose-built buildings.

Coun Martyn Gorton said: “I suggest we do not respond but object to any closure of the services in Hemsworth, Kinsley and Fitzwilliam.

“If we put plans in place too early, then I believe Wakefield Council is facing such severe cuts that it will take up that option straight away.”

Coun John Richardson said: “The libraries are Wakefield Council’s responsibility and it should remain their responsibility. We do not want our two libraries to close.

“Hemsworth is one of the most modern in the district and the Kinsley one covers two villages.”

Coun Tony Upson said: “ One thing we are all agreed on is that we need to retain our libraries as best we can. We need to engage with Wakefield to find out what their plans are.”