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Bradford MP Has 'Significant Concerns' About Library Cuts

Naz Shah, who represents Bradford West, has criticised council plans to slash the budget for libraries and museums.

A Bradford MP has entered the debate about the future of the district’s museums and libraries, saying she has “significant concerns” over the plans.

Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West, has criticised Bradford Council’s plans to slash the budget for the services, reducing the department’s budget by 65 per cent over two years.

Details of what the cuts will look like will not be revealed until September, but the Council has announced that it will be cutting its museums and galleries budget, currently, £1.8 million, by £500,000 in 2020/21.

The libraries budget, which is currently £2,824,000, will be cut by £1.5 million.

The Council says the cuts are needed due to its funding from central government being slashed through austerity.

After a recent meeting with the Unite Union to discuss the cuts, Ms Shah has written to Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe and Chief Executive Kersten England to voice her concerns.

The union represents a number of the library and museum staff whose jobs are at risk in the cuts.

Ms Shah said: “Last week I met with Unite the Union and I seek to raise some significant concerns that have been brought to my attention.”

A release from the MP’s office said she had “deep concerns about the potential closure of 13 libraries and four museums, especially the particular effect of this on Manningham library and potentially Cartwright Hall.”

The Council last week said no museum closures were planned as part of the current budget cuts.

Ms Shah further added “My concerns are that the Equality Impact Assessments carried out are inadequate.

“The consequent cuts will impact greatly on part time workers, the majority of whom are women. It is simply not acceptable that workers are treated in this way.

“What concerns me greatly is that the council appear to have no plan B, the council have failed to put forward proposals to mitigate the loss of provisions, services and jobs.

“With Bradford seeking to be the City of Culture 2025, it is extremely concerning that cuts of 65 per cent are being proposed as this will impact significantly on the cultural services in Bradford.”

Last week Bradford Council announced that it would be applying to become UK City of Culture, but the timing of the announcement, coming when the authority was considering such large cuts to its museum service, was criticised by the Unite union.

In response to Ms Shah’s letter a spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “We published a budget last year as we do every year and consulted on it in the proper way.

“Every department across the Council has had to face reductions in funding as a result of national government austerity.

“Any future budget will of course be fully consulted upon with staff and residents.

“Unite have been invited to take part at every stage of the staff consultation. However, in the latter stages, Unite have chosen not to attend meetings or engage in an open dialogue with Council management.’’

Councillors have been told that the scope of the proposed cuts, will be revealed early next month, giving a clearer view of the future of the service, before a public consultation begins.

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