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WATCH: Chocolat author Joanne Harris joins fight to save threatened Almondbury Library

The Almondbury resident wants the community to get involved with the newly formed Almondbury Library Friends Association

Chocolat author Joanne Harris has joined the fight to save Almondbury Library.

She joined a group of other concerned local people, Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman and library staff at a meeting today.

There they began to form plans about how to not just save the service but preserve it in the Stocks Walk building where it currently resides.

The village library is one of 24 permanent libraries in Kirklees facing an uncertain future after Kirklees Council revealed last year that they were considering to close them to reduce expenditure by £2.8m.

Joanne, who has lived in Almondbury since 2000, said that reducing or removing the service and its current hub would be 'ruinous'.

She said: "We need to safeguard not just the local service but the building in which it is located in.

"The same can be said for all the other libraries that are facing the same threat.

"They are vibrant civic spaces which are great places to bring together communities and keep them close knit and act as vital safe spaces for children after school and elderly people.

"Asking residents to go into Huddersfield to use the library misses the point that if it's not very local a lot of people won't be able to use it.

"It would be ruinous if Almondbury and the other libraries went."

Author Joanne Harris

She was outspoken about the attitude Kirklees Council should take.

She said: "I know the council has been put in this position by the current government but I wouldn't submit to this bullying if I was a councillor.

"I would rather produce an illegal budget and go to jail because it's the only stand one could make."

Also at the meeting, where the residents formally named their group the Almondbury Library Friends Association, was Kathryn Harrison, an area manager for Kirklees Library Services.

She said that the recruitment of volunteers would be essential to keep the community services alive.

She said: "It is going to be down to volunteers on the front line.

"We can't say whether the service will be run with one member of staff and volunteer support or solely volunteers at the moment because we need to see how many communities come forward to support us.

"We're discussing all the options via the consultation, which closes on April 10 and are welcoming ideas about how to save the library services.

"Then even if we manage to safeguard the service here my team can't help safeguard the building because we're not responsible for that aspect."

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman

Huddersfield MP, Barry Sheerman, told the group that they needed to create a business plan before considering whether to attempt to buy the building via a community asset transfer.

"We need to consider if we want to invite other services into the building to encourage the council to accept a deal."

“We need to do all we can to keep this library and the others and get more members of the community involved.”


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