FEARS for the future of Keighley Library and Cliffe Castle Museum were sparked this week by announcements of new Bradford Council budget cuts.

Council bosses initially refused to rule out the closure of museums and libraries across the district when they announced plans to save £30 million over the next two years.

Exclusive top-level assurances were later given to the Keighley News that the town’s library and flagship museum would both remain open and under City Hall control.

But either facility could still be affected as the council decides exactly where to apply savings which will lead to a potential 150 job losses.

Under the latest proposals, library services across Bradford district will be slashed by £950,000, and the museum and galleries budget is set to be reduced by £260,000.

Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe, speaking on Monday, stressed that closing museums was a “last resort”.

But she added: “We are reviewing how we can run services and take costs out. We can’t rule out having to close some services if it gets that far.”

On Tuesday the Keighley News asked specifically whether the axe would fall on Keighley’s flagship attractions.

Cllr Hinchcliffe responded: “There are no plans to close Keighley Library. There are no plans to close Cliffe Castle Museum.

“Because of continued government cuts there remains significant amounts of money the council needs to save from the library service. There will be money coming out of the budget for museums and galleries.

“How this will be achieved will be subject to a review. Naturally we will consult with local people to inform this process.”

Keighley MP John Grogan, while admitting the council’s financial pressures painted a “dire picture”, added his weight to Cllr Hinchcliffe’s assurances.

He said: “From the discussions I have had with leading councillors and officers in recent weeks I understand it is the council’s intention to keep open and to run both the flagship Keighley Library and Cliffe Castle.”

Keighley MP John Grogan said Bradford Council had been forced to cut services to the bone over the last seven years and by 2020 would lose all revenue grant funding from the government.

He said: “In 2013/14 the Council received £183 million in Revenue Support Grant from the Government and It drops to zero in 2020/2021.

“Since 2010 Bradford Council have reduced their spending by £256 million. In this year’s budget councillors are faced with a new gap of £7.1 million for 2018/19, and another £23.6 million gap in 2019/20.”

The council’s initial refusal to rule out closure drew a shocked response from popular Keighley historian Ian Dewhirst, who ran the town’s reference library for 25 years.

He said: “There’s little enough proper culture in Keighley nowadays, but these are the two kingpins. If they take those away what would there be left for culture? There be a few pubs and clubs.

In the past Mr Dewhirst has been a vocal protestor against cuts to the library service in Keighley, including the controversial reduction of book stocks.

He added: “The reference library closed and the lending library is a shadow of what it used to be. I deplored that, but this would be 10 times worse.”

The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Abid Hussain, whose Keighley Central ward includes the library and Cliffe Castle, said he would work to protect Keighley Library and Cliffe Castle.

He said: “They provide a great service to the community. A lot of money has been spent on Cliffe Castle so I will try to continue its great history.”