FEARS are being voiced over the future role of Keighley’s historic library.

The prime town-centre building is earmarked as a ‘community hub’ under a cost-slashing shake-up of the district’s libraries.

But the plans to move other council and community-sector services to the North Street premises have sparked anxiety that current provision will be eroded.

And there are renewed calls for the ‘green space’ nearby, created following the demolition of the former college building, to be retained.

Bradford Council is planning to develop the currently-grassed area as a public sector hub.

“Why do we need that hub if they’re going to create one in the library – it makes no sense?” says town councillor Michael Westerman, chairman of the watch and transport committee.

“We could now retain the green space, and have a paved area in the centre of it for hosting community events.

“The site would be a real focal point and help bring visitors into the town.”

He also questions whether the plans for other council services within the library would threaten the future of the existing ‘one-stop shop’ at Keighley Town Hall.

More than 50 people packed into the first floor of the library on Saturday for a public meeting.

Bradford Council’s head of libraries and museums, Maggie Pedley, outlined the proposals for restructuring the service.

She said originally the local authority was faced with having to make library budget savings of £950,000, but following “internal discussions” the figure had been reduced to £530,000 in the next year.

Mrs Pedley said it was the council’s “ambition” to retain all 29 libraries across the district, but warned that there would be redundancies.

“The restructure does propose some reductions in staff,” she said.

“We will be creating some new posts, and deleting some existing ones.

“There could be compulsory redundancies, but we are trying to keep those to a minimum.

“We are in consultation with staff.”

Under the reorganisation, Keighley Library – together with Shipley and Bradford’s city-centre site – would become community hubs.

Each would head-up a cluster of libraries.

“The aim of the hubs is to offer a wider range of council and community-sector services,” said Mrs Pedley.

“The hubs would become a focal point for local activities, services and facilities, with more focus on multi-purpose use.

“This would enable efficiencies through shared use of assets and resources and the increased involvement of community volunteers.

“The ethos of this is about delivering better for the community.

“Through the clusters, libraries will have stronger and closer ties with one another. They will be able to be more responsive to the needs of their particular areas.

“Hopefully the feel of the library won’t be any different and there will be a chance for the public to have greater influence over what we do there.”

She added that precisely what services were offered would hinge on what people wanted, and consultation was just beginning.

“We want the community to decide what it would like to see provided,” Mrs Pedley told the meeting.

“We’re talking with adult and children’s services, community groups etc. The invitation is for you to think of groups and sectors that would benefit from working with us.”

Councillors criticised a lack of notice about the meeting.

Cath Bacon, who currently represents Keighley West but will be standing in Keighley Central at the next council elections, said she’d only learned of it at lunchtime the previous day.

“It’s extremely short notice and it appears things have been done by the back door,” she added.

“This issue affects a lot of wider services as well. We need a lot more consultation.”

Worth Valley ward councillor Rebecca Poulsen said she found out about the meeting through a story in the Keighley News.

“I’m disappointed that councillors didn’t receive an invitation,” she added.

“I think it’s really important to hear what people are saying.

“We don’t have library provision in the Worth Valley – which is shocking – and a lot of our residents come to Keighley to use the facilities here.”

Mrs Pedley said she “took responsibility” for the short notice, but felt it was important to organise initial meetings quite quickly to outline the proposals.

“We will be working-up a very detailed consultation plan to make sure it’s done right,” she said.

Further savings are proposed through the merger of the libraries and museums & galleries services.

The council is planning to reduce public opening hours at Bradford Industrial Museum and Bolling Hall, but Cliffe Castle would be unaffected.

Bradford Council said the plans for a public sector hub on the ex-college site were not affected by the library proposals, and it was too soon to say whether there would be any impact on the one-stop shop.

A spokesman added: “No firm decisions have been made yet about what services will be delivered from the proposed ‘hub’ at the library.

“A full appraisal of council and other services will be undertaken as part of the consultation.

“It is too early to say whether this would affect the services currently being delivered from the one-stop-shop at Keighley Town Hall.

“The public sector hub is a separate project and negotiations are continuing with potential partners to deliver this”