A VILLAGE library could be saved after councillors ordered its closure to be reconsidered.
Kirklees Council’s Cabinet voted last month to shut New Mill Library to save £41,000 a year.
But a special Scrutiny Panel yesterday told the ruling Labour/Lib Dem coalition to reconsider the issue because of confusion about computer provision.
In June Cabinet had been assured that a replacement mobile library would have at least one PC to replace the four which are currently available at New Mill Library.
But it emerged during yesterday’s hearing at Huddersfield Town Hall that there are no computers for public use on mobile libraries.
The cross-party Scrutiny Panel told Cabinet to reconsider the closure on July 21.
Chairman Clr Robert Iredale said: “We’re referring this back to Cabinet with the recommendation that they defer the closure decision until they have ensured there is alternative access to public computers in New Mill.”
Earlier the Scrutiny Panel heard Clr Donald Firth, who lives in New Mill, explain his opposition to the closure.
The Holme Valley South Conservative said: “I believe this is little more than a petty cost-cutting exercise that will mean the loss of a service that is well valued by local people.”
Clr Firth said that if any small library in Kirklees had to close, it should be Kirkheaton. He said: “Kirkheaton should be the main candidate for closure as it has 4,000 fewer visitors a year than New Mill.”
Fellow Holme Valley South Conservative Clr Ken Sims told the panel that New Mill needed a library to serve its growing population.
He said: “There is planning permission for 300 new homes which will create extra foot-fall at the library.”
Clr Sims also accused the Labour/Lib Dem Cabinet of manipulating statistics to justify the closure. He said: “Every trick in the book has been used to make figures match requirements.”
But Cabinet member for regeneration Clr Christine Stanfield denied this.
The Lindley Lib Dem said: “I don’t blame people for objecting to the closure, but they are rejecting every single statistic which the library service provides.”
Clr Stanfield said that a mobile library would provide more choice than the current village library.
She said: “There are 6,500 books on a mobile unit and they are rotated regularly. There is also IT provision.”
However, later in the meeting a council officer said that mobile libraries do not have computers for public use.
Clr Stanfield said: “I apologise, I understood that there would be a PC on the bus.”
The Scrutiny Panel sent the closure decision back to Cabinet because of the confusion over computer provision. However, Cabinet can still decide to go ahead and shut the library.
After the meeting Clr Firth said he would continue fighting to keep New Mill Library open. He said: “It was the correct decision.
“I shall go to the Cabinet meeting and tell them what I’ve always told them – keep your hands off New Mill.”