COUNCIL bosses in York have been challenged to say exactly where they expect library cuts to fall - and whether library staff will be made redundant - after the authority approved a £300,000 cut in the Explore York budget in each of the next two years.

Explore, the city’s independently-run library service, operates 15 libraries and the city archives under a 15-year funding contract with the council.

The Labour-run authority approved a budget last week which would see the library service’s annual council funding cut from £2.6 million to £2.3 million in the year beginning in April – and then to £2 million the year after.

Opposition Liberal Democrat councillors - who voted against the cuts to library funding - today demanded to know which areas of the city library service the council now expected to see cut.

Cllr Darryl Smalley, who was executive member responsible for libraries under the previous Lib Dem/ Green administration, said: “Under the Liberal Democrats, funding for York’s libraries was protected every single year. It’s shameful that Labour’s first act is to cut their budget.

York Press: Cllr Darryl SmalleyCllr Darryl Smalley (Image: Supplied)

“We now must have urgent answers from the Labour administration about exactly which libraries services will be cut, which staff are going to be made redundant and if we will see the closure of any libraries.”

Cllr Smalley said his party had ‘put forward a simple amendment to stop the cut to our libraries’ at last week’s budget.

The plan would have involved using £1.5 million of extra government cash earmarked for the council by Whitehall just before the budget was set, Cllr Smalley said.

Explore chief executive Jenny Layfield, who spoke against the cuts at last week’s meeting, said she was ‘disappointed’ they had been voted through and that a way could not have been found to protect libraries.

She said her organisation’s board of directors would meet with council representatives to discuss changes to the funding contract – but only after the authority has issued a notice clarifying exactly what library services it thinks should be cut.

York Press: Explore York chief executive Jenny LayfieldExplore York chief executive Jenny Layfield (Image: Supplied)

She said: “Initially they need to issue us with a change clause notice stating what services they want us to reduce. We will then enter in discussions with them in good faith as we have stated all along.”

She said the council would also, at some point, need to consult on proposed library cuts.

Ms Layfield said she would ‘continue to campaign for our Libraries and the communities who use them’ but added: “I appreciate the challenges that the City of York Council is facing and that, in the current climate, there are no easy choices to be made.”


Pauline Stuchfield, the director of customer and communities at City of York Council, said: “The council will continue to monitor and review all aspects of Explore York’s business and financial information, within its client remit and responsibilities, before and after issuing a contract change notice, and during the necessary following negotiations that will take place.

"We are committed to a partnership approach between the two parties aimed at ensuring York’s libraries continue to flourish long into the future. The council will honour its contractual obligations until any changes are made”.