CITY leaders are to be pushed for answers over plans for the future of York’s libraries tonight.

The Press revealed last week how City of York Council has suggested a “community benefit society” could be set up to run the city’s library service – which has to save £250,000 next year – on the Labour-controlled authority’s behalf, as it could attract more external funding.

Coun Nigel Ayre, the Liberal Democrat’s cultural services spokesman, will tonight ask Coun Sonja Crisp, cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, whether this idea is the only way forward and seek guarantees that staffing levels will be maintained when any changes to the service are made. He said a public consultation on the issue did not include questions on “future ownership or management changes”, and the exercise should be withdrawn and replaced by “a proper debate”.

“Given the importance of libraries, I would be extremely anxious about any move away from public ownership, but we need to see what Labour are proposing and all the details of the alternative vision for libraries we know they are working on,” he said.