With the Kirklees Council elections just 10 days away, local government reporter BARRY GIBSON asks party leaders where they stand on spending cuts to libraries and children’s centres.
FRONTLINE services are being hit as Kirklees Council struggles to cope with the public spending squeeze.
The budget for 2012-13 includes £15.7m of cuts – with libraries and children’s centres among the victims.
The council has decided to slash £725,000 from the Sure Start budget this year – but officials believe the reduction can be made without closing any of the 32 centres.
The libraries budget is also under pressure, with £622,000 of cuts due this year.
Officials want to save money by removing paid staff from the centres in Slaithwaite, Golcar, Honley, Lepton, Kirkheaton, Denby Dale and Shepley.
The council has asked volunteers to take on the running of the seven village libraries.
Clr Pinnock, who leads the 14-strong Lib Dem group, believes the council can keep paid staff at all the centres by putting a tax on long-term empty homes.
She said: “To claim you’re keeping libraries open when you’re expecting volunteers to run them is disingenuous.
“We were the only group that put forward a way of increasing council income so we could afford to keep professional library staff at every library.
“The council is able to collect council tax on properties that are lying empty. That would raise a couple of million – more than enough to cover employing professional librarians.”
Clr Pinnock called on the Labour Cabinet to outline its plan for saving £725,000 from the Sure Start budget.
She said: “We want transparency on children’s centres because we’re still none the wiser as to what the services will look like after the cuts have been made and I think that’s outrageous.”
Conservative leader Clr Robert Light thinks Kirklees should protect frontline services.