YORK’S political leaders have been accused of wasting money over a proposed library shake-up.

City of York Council is looking at turning three more libraries into Explore centres by expanding an initiative already used in the city centre and Acomb.

The launch of a public consultation exercise on the proposal is set to be agreed next week.

As well as rolling out the Explore model to Tang Hall, Clifton and Haxby libraries, nine others – in Bishopthorpe, Copmanthorpe, Dunnington, Dringhouses, Fulford, Huntington, Poppleton, New Earswick and Strensall – would become Explore Gateways, housing some of the same services and directing users towards larger centres.

But the council’s Liberal Democrats criticised the ruling Labour group for “political posturing” over potential reductions in reading and information advisors through extending the Explore idea, outlined in a report going before the authority’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and social inclusion, Coun Sonja Crisp, next week.

Labour’s emergency budget, passed after the party took control of the authority, reversed a proposed £40,000 cut in library staff costs proposed by the Lib Dems when they tabled the Explore plans while in charge.

The group claimed Labour squandered the chance to save this money during 2011/12, despite now making the same proposals. Coun Crisp said the Lib Dem plans had lacked consultation and vital information.

“Labour have cost taxpayers more than £40,000 as savings which were being made alongside the Explore roll-out haven’t yet been made,” said Lib Dem councillor Nigel Ayre.

“They claimed putting this money into their budget amendment was to reverse staff cuts, yet this report says they will be seeking voluntary redundancies to generate savings. All Labour have done is spend £40,000 to take the same decisions as the Lib Dems.

“Coun Crisp should explain why she has allowed this delay and say what has happened to make her change her decision. It seems absolutely nothing has happened over the last six months except for money being wasted.”

Coun Crisp said: “The Lib Dems set about taking the Explore roll-out decision using library usage data which, in some cases, was a decade old, without real consultation with users and without undertaking an equality impact assessment.

“These were the main reasons we stopped their decision going ahead, in order to ensure that, once in power, we did things properly.”

If approved, the library consultation will run between October and next March.