The budget for Bradford’s libraries is set to be slashed by almost £1m over the next 12 months.
Although all the council-run libraries in the district will remain open, library staff are likely to bear the brunt of the cuts, with a raft of job losses expected.
In the 2019/20 financial year Bradford Council plans to cut around £950,000 from its libraries budget. The following year a further £1m is expected to be slashed from the budget.
It means the service’s overall budget will fall from £3,120,900 this current financial year to £1,120,900 by 2020/21 – a drop of over 65 per cent in just two years.
The council will be holding a series of public events to discuss the cuts over the coming week, and the issue is also being discussed by the authority’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee next Tuesday.
A report to the committee says coming up with proposals for the library service’s future in light of huge Council cuts has been “very challenging.”
Central government cuts mean Bradford Council is looking to make £13.5 million in savings for 2019-20, with a further £19.9 million needed in 2020-21.
There are currently ten council-run libraries in the district, along with 17 community-run libraries and two “hybrid” libraries.
The report says that under the new proposals three of the council-run libraries, in Shipley, Keighley and Bradford, would become “community hubs” offering a wider range of Council and community sector services.
The other seven council-run libraries will be retained. There are also no plans to reduce the community-run libraries.
Describing how the new model will save money, the report says: “This approach to the future management of the libraries service will enable efficiencies through the shared use of assets and will reduce costs through bringing services together in one place.
“Shared resources and increased use of community volunteers together with enhancements to the current self-service technology will enable a significant contribution to savings targets through directly employed staff reductions.”
It says details of the number of staff reductions will not be known until after a consultation on the plans.
When cuts to the service were first mooted there had been fears that a number of Council run libraries could become volunteer run.
Councillor Ralph Berry (Lab, Wibsey) sits on the committee and has been calling for more information on the fate of the libraries service for several months.
He said: “This is a very welcome shift, and it allows us to look at what we’ve been doing with our library service and take a more creative approach to securing the future of our libraries.
“This gives us more time to plan, but there needs to be a lot more discussion.”
Public consulation events
A number of events where the public can learn more about the plans have been organised by the council.
There will be one event at 6pm on Thursday at Eccleshill Library, one at 6pm on Friday at Ilkley Library, one at 10am on Saturday at Keighley Library, one at 3pm on Saturday at Shipley Library and one at 6pm on Monday at Wibsey Library.
The scrutiny committee meets in City Hall at 5.30pm next Tuesday.