Thousands sign petition against Kirklees Council cuts
THOUSANDS of villagers have signed a petition to protect their libraries.
Kirklees Council unveiled a proposal earlier this year to withdraw paid staff from centres at Slaithwaite, Golcar, Lepton, Honley, Denby Dale, Shepley and Kirkheaton.
Officials hope that volunteers will take over the running of the rural libraries to save money.
But more than 8,000 people have backed a petition against the plan in the last two months – more than 130 signatures a day.
Biddy Fisher of Friends of Denby Dale Library helped organise the campaign.
“We think we have between 8,000 and 9,000 signatures,” she said yesterday.
“The petition calls for staff to remain managing and running the libraries. A totally volunteer staff would mean there would be no continuity or consistency.
“I think it’s really significant that seven villages have been mobilised in a fairly short time. The seven villages have risen up and said: ‘That’s not good enough. Go away.’”
The campaigners will present the petition at the full council meeting at Huddersfield Town Hall at 5pm on October 24.
Mrs Fisher believes councillors should pay attention to the views of villagers.
“It’s around 8,500 votes that councillors can’t rely on next time round if they endanger library services,” she said.
Last month chief librarian Carol Stump hinted that the volunteer plan could be dropped.
But Mrs Fisher believes the threat to libraries hasn’t gone away.
“Senior managers are now talking about volunteer-assisted libraries rather than volunteer-run libraries,” she said.
“But we’ve not won and the over-riding feeling is that we must keep the pressure on.
“We have decided that, even though it would appear that the seven villages have been relieved from taking the burden of cuts, it’s still necessary for the councillors, and particularly the Cabinet, to realise that libraries are not the soft option.