Bradford to invest money back into its libraries in bid to 'improve city's wellbeing'

A major U-turn in funding Bradford's libraries could help 'improve residents' health and wellbeing', according to the council.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of cuts were announced for Bradford's libraries last year, the biggest being a £1.05 chunk to be held back from its budget over the coming year.

Bradford Council has announced it is to offset the cuts by investing £700,000 of Public Health money - £100,000 of which will be spent over the next 12 months.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The authority has said its libraries are "much more than a book-lending service", playing a huge role in tackling poverty, social isolation and helping prepare people for employment, school or education, and has now launched an online survey consulting the public over the future direction over its library services.

Bradford Council says its libraries are "much more than a book-lending service" as it plans to invest 700k to offset cuts to its budget. Picture: Adobe Stock Images

Councillor Sarah Ferriby also claimed the cash would help serve the general health of Bradford residents.

Coun Ferriby said: “The funding from Public Health allows us to maintain our existing library offer and residents will still be able to access a local library in future.

“However, we still face the reality of years of cuts and cannot afford for the service to stand still and continue to operate in its current form.

“The changes we are proposing build on many of the things libraries already deliver in terms of delivering wider Council priorities, for instance, improving the health and wellbeing of residents."

Bradford Council says its libraries are "much more than a book-lending service" as it plans to invest 700k to offset cuts to its budget.

She continued: “We will continue talking and listening to residents and our aim for the future is to provide a library service which meets the specific local needs of each community we serve.”

There are currently 29 libraries in the Bradford district, including the central Bradford Public Library and adjoining Impressions Gallery at Centenary Square.

A spokesman for Bradford Council said: "Libraries are now seen as more than a traditional ‘library service’ where people go to read and loan books. They are places where learning and personal enrichment take place and they have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of our residents, as well as wider priorities across the district.

"In recognition of these wider impacts, in particular in improving health outcomes, tackling poverty, addressing social isolation, assisting people back into employment, and helping with school readiness, the Council is exploring wider funding opportunities which would help support ambitions for a sustainable library service which meets the needs of local communities.

The Impressions Gallery at Bradford, part of the city's central library at Centenary Square

"Bradford Council has therefore re-assessed its budget considerations and savings of £1.05m which were required for 2020-21 are now being partly met by a base budget investment of £700k from Public Health, subject to approval following consultation."

Members of the public can view the consultation online at www.bradford.gov.uk/libraries