A COUNCILLOR who plans to close a library has been challenged to visit the village and justify the decision.
Kirklees Council’s Labour / Lib Dem Cabinet plans to shut New Mill Library to save money.
But Clr Donald Firth, who represents the village, wants the Cabinet member for regeneration Clr Christine Stanfield to tell the people of New Mill why their library should close.
He said: “I would challenge Clr Stanfield to attend a public meeting in New Mill to justify the closure. She would see the strength of opposition to this proposal.”
Clr Firth has collected more than 1,000 signatures to a petition against the library’s closure. The Holme Valley South Conservative said: “Local people are very much against the library closing. It is at the heart of the community and offers far more than just book-lending. The library is used by schools, effectively serves as a tourist information point and provides PCs to help people become computer-literate.”
The council’s Cabinet has justified the closure on the grounds that New Mill has the fewest active borrowers of any library in Kirklees.
In 2006/07 the library had 272 active borrowers and issued 13,731 books. The following year New Mill had 288 active borrowers and issued 13,933 books.
But Clr Firth believes that if a library has to close, it should be Kirkheaton rather than New Mill.
He said: “New Mill Library had 3,000 more visitors than Kirkheaton last year. On that basis, if a library is to close, surely Kirkheaton would be the main contender – but it is in a ward represented by Lib Dem and Labour councillors.”
But Clr Stanfield defended the closure plan.
She said: “The council’s library service calculates by the number of book borrowers who are registered to each library. No-one wants libraries to close but cuts have to be made and New Mill has the lowest number of registered borrowers – 288 people last year.”
Clr Stanfield agreed that New Mill Library offered other services besides book-lending. The Lindley Lib Dem said: “I know there are people who go in there for children’s reading classes or to use the computers but that’s not how the library service measures things.
“There’s no dispute that it is a much-loved, well-used library but this closure wouldn’t have happened if it had more registered users.”