VILLAGERS campaigned to protect their libraries from cuts.
Around 60 people protested outside Huddersfield Town Hall yesterday against Kirklees Council’s plan to withdraw paid staff.
Officials want volunteers to take the place of librarians in Slaithwaite, Golcar, Lepton, Honley, Kirkheaton, Denby Dale and Shepley.
Campaigners demonstrated against the proposed change from 12.30pm in the run-up to the annual council meeting.
Suzanne Gannon was one of 14 members of Honley Library Book Club at yesterday’s protests.
“Our library is a vital lifeline right in the heart of the village,” she said.
“We think the volunteer proposal will end in closure because it would be very hard to do.
“It would start off well and then go horribly wrong.”
Bev Millington from the Friends of Denby Dale Library agreed.
“We’re totally against the volunteer plan because it wouldn’t be sustainable,” she said.
“We’re working together with people from the other six libraries because we all want to be treated like the rest of the libraries in Kirklees.
“Why have we been singled out? Why are none of the urban libraries under threat?”
Kirklees Unison assistant branch secretary Mick Ryan called on high-earning council staff to bear the brunt of cuts.Related content
“I think it’s really interesting that the top 23 people on the council cost £3m and they are trying to cut frontline staff,” he said.
“The councillors have got to start listening to local people.”
June Jones of Friends of Slaithwaite Library called on the Government to abandon public spending cuts.
“The austerity programme is starting to fail,” she said.
“The council should stand up to the Government and demand more money.”
Party leaders outlined their positions on libraries during yesterday’s annual council meeting.
Clr Andrew Cooper of the Greens and Valley Independents said: “For many communities their library is the principle and only link with Kirklees and is valued very much by the community.”
Lib Dem leader Clr Kath Pinnock said: “We accept there are significant pressures on council spending but we’re determined to ensure that key public services are protected.”
Conservative leader Clr Robert Light called for a lasting solution to the problem.
“We have challenged the council to find a sustainable solution that safeguards our libraries, not as a one-off gimmick for a year but for the long term.”
Slaithwaite, Golcar, Lepton, Honley, Kirkheaton and Denby Dale libraries are due to lose their paid staff in April 2013 while Shepley will make the switch to volunteer-run in April 2014.
Author Alan Gibbons will speak at a public meeting against library cuts at the Methodist Mission from 7pm on Tuesday, June 19.