Culture, Media and Sport CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Kirkburton Parish Council

In Summary

Kirkburton Parish Council strongly objects to any cuts in Government funding resulting in library closures.

Libraries provide a valuable service, not just books, but newspapers/journals, computers, children’s activities.

They are a focal point of the village.

There is a high proportion of elderly and less affluent people in the area, who particularly benefit from all library services.

Extremely poor public transport system makes it difficult for some people to access libraries other than the one in their own village.

Large investment has been made by Kirklees to convert some libraries in Library & Information Centres—closure would be waste of money, and would take away the benefits these LIC’s now provide.

Large public support for retention of all the libraries in this area.

1. Kirkburton Parish Council strongly objects to Government cutting funding to principal authorities, which is resulting in cuts to the library services. It feels that the services should remain exactly as they are at present, as they are important to a whole range of people and provide an extremely valuable service.

2. Kirkburton Parish Council covers an area of 22 sq miles, which includes 11 villages and a population of just over 25,000 people. It is semi-rural and fairly widespread, with access between many of the villages only possible by car, since public transport routes do not link up the villages and, where there are bus routes, the service is very poor and unreliable.

3. The population of the Parish Council area covers a wide range of age groups and levels of affluence, with areas of poverty and deprivation. There is a higher than average percentage of older people, who particularly value the library service and who would find it difficult, if not impossible, to get to libraries further away.

4. The Parish Council area is served by four libraries as well as various mobile libraries, all of which are highly valued by the population. They provide not only the normal supply of books and reading/reference material/specialist magazines/newspapers etc, but also provide regular and varied activities for children of all ages and access to computers. Due to the factors described above, the libraries offer a vital service to the people in this area.

5. In these times of high unemployment and redundancy, the services are becoming more important to people.

6. Also due to the rural character of the Parish Council area, there are no other similar activities and resources available in the villages. Many of them are losing shops, banks and post offices, and if the libraries were to close as well, it would leave little more than collections of houses, with those without their own transport and the less mobile suffering more than most.

7. Some of the libraries in this area have also been upgraded into Library and Information Centres, so the buildings are used by several different agencies, such as Kirklees Council, the Police, community groups and various other agencies, bringing lots of services together under one roof, which as well as being convenient it is also more economical to all the organisations. The police has found the arrangement particularly successful, and has noted an increase in the level of information it has received from the public, since the arrangements were introduced. The work on the buildings was a considerable investment by Kirklees Council, and public money will be wasted if the libraries have to close.

8. I trust that this shows how highly valued libraries are in this area. These views are backed up by the public, which can be seen by the very high attendance rate at meetings held to discuss the future of libraries.

I trust that the Parish Council’s views will be taken account of before any decisions are taken on reducing this very valuable service to the community.

January 2012

Prepared 5th November 2012