MORE than 2,000 people have now signed a petition opposing plans to cut £600,000 from York’s libraries budget over the next two years.

As reported in The Press, the proposed cut in the council’s contracted funding for Explore York Libraries and Archives is part of a planned £14.3 million in savings the council’s Labour administration wants to make in the next year as part of attempts to plug a £40 million black hole in the authority’s finances.

Opposition Lib Dem councillors organised a petition opposing the library cuts - and say it has gathered more than 2,000 names in a week.

Lib Dem councillor for Haxby and Wigginton Andrew Hollyer said: “York residents have not been consulted on Labour’s heartless budget.

“Perhaps this is why over 2,000 residents have come out in support of our petition.

“We have four more weeks to save York’s libraries and I would encourage all residents to sign our petition to reverse this heartless cut.”

The petition comes as Explore bosses continue to insist the council cannot unilaterally cut their funding without consulting them first.

That’s because Explore is an independently-run mutual organisation which has a 15-year contract with the council, signed in 2019, to run the city’s libraries and archive for a contractually-agreed sum each year.


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When Labour announced its proposals last week, Explore chief executive Jenny Layfield issued a statement on behalf of her board of directors.

It said: “As part of the contract there is an agreed contract sum which is paid to Explore each year.

“Explore is not therefore part of the council and does not have a council budget which can be subject to cuts.

“In any contract of this nature there are agreed mechanisms for changing the terms of the contract, including the level of services provided and the costs associated with that. However, those changes require the agreement of both parties.”

Quizzed about this, the council said it had tried to discuss the contract with York Explore for months and was ‘rebuffed’.

Ms Layfield insisted, however, that there had never been formal discussions.

She told The Press: “The directors and I meet with City of York Council regularly as part of the normal management of our contract.

“They have spoken to us informally about their wish to reduce the amount they pay Explore. But they have not, as yet, put their proposals in writing or entered into formal discussions.

“We remain committed to working constructively with (the council) to ensure York’s much loved library and archives service continues to thrive.”

Cllr Jo Coles, Labour’s executive member for health and wellbeing, said: “Council officers first raised this issue with York Explore in August last year and I attended a meeting in mid-November where their chief executive said the Explore board was unprepared to discuss the matter until the council issued a notification of change of contract.

“We’ve not reached that point yet but will do soon.

“We hope once this happens York Explore will engage with us so we can work through a plan to ensure the city’s libraries continue to flourish long into the future, while contributing to the budget reductions other essential council services are experiencing.”

You can sign the petition opposing cuts to York’s library funding at