Bradford Socialist Party members campaigning against the library cuts – photo Iain Dalton
Text of a Bradford Socialist Party ‘Save Our Libraries’ leaflet
The future of 12 libraries across the Bradford district lies in the balance, as part of around £61m worth of cuts passed by the council at its budget setting meeting in February. This would be a reduction of a half of full-time libraries across the district—another victim of the Tory government’s savage cuts which Labour-led Bradford Council are implementing.
The council had originally planned to fully staff just seven—the city centre plus Keighley, Manningham, Shipley, Ilkley, Bingley and Eccleshill.
Under pressure from campaigners, the budget was amended with funding to fully staff Wibsey, Laisterdyke and Wyke, whilst Baildon and Clayton will be partially staffed, with other hours being covered by unpaid volunteers.
The Socialist Party believes libraries are vital community resources, especially used by families with young children. It is vital that these services are provided by fully trained staff, not let to the mercies of whether enough people can volunteer to run services.
These services should not be sacrificed on the altar of austerity to help fund tax cuts for the wealthy and boost the profits of major corporations. We believe that the council should be resisting the cuts to its funding, not doing the Tories dirty work of attacking local communities jobs and services.
The £218 million the council holds in useable reserves must be utilised as a first step to building a mass campaign to challenge the government’s cuts.
The planned decimation of library services in the Bradford area of West Yorkshire has led to angry scenes at the recent ‘consultation’ meetings, where details about the possible closure of 11 libraries have been put on the table.
Blaming budget pressures, Bradford Council propose to fully fund just seven libraries in the region, with the other 11 to be run by volunteers or closed. There was no doubt amongst people at the meetings about the damage this will do. Socialist Party members are amongst those organising opposition to these plans, starting by setting up a steering committee that will be meeting shortly to set up a public meeting to give an organised voice to the anger that exists on the issue.
With the council debating the issue on February 25th these consultations leave predictably little time to regroup and organise resistance, but they will have a shock later this month if they expect that meeting to take place without a wall of opposition outside.
With Labour running Bradford council there is hope amongst some that a re-think may yet happen. As we made clear at the consultations, the £218m in available reserves held by them must be utilised as a first step to building a challenge to the government’s cuts. Labour councillors have recently received detailed letters outlining how to set a legal no cuts budget that would be the basis of this campaign, with Momentum locally also pushing councillors to resist the cuts. We look forward to hearing their response, or to them hearing ours on Feb 25th and beyond.
Ian Slattery, Bradford Socialist Party.