CONCERNED campaigners are joining forces to apply for grants which could save their libraries from the axe.
The Save Ackworth Library Group – which pledged in May to fight Wakefield Council’s proposals to close the village library – hopes to merge with supporters in nearby Upton and North Elmsall to access the council’s community libraries grant scheme.
Roger Brown, chairman of the Ackworth group, said he hoped to meet members of the Upton and North Elmsall Community Forum next month to discuss ways of applying to the council’s £100,000 pot of library cash.
Mr Brown said: “The Ackworth group is looking to co-operate with them to apply for the grant to run our library in conjunction with the Upton library.
“We’re looking to merge with the group to get more strength and depth. We’re looking to come together in September and hopefully negotiate a way forward.”
Last month council chiefs urged community leaders to step up and save under-threat libraries in the Ackworth Parish Council Community Centre and St Mary’s Community Centre in Chequerfield, after a 12-week consultation found four out of every ten library users had stopped using the district’s libraries since 1992.
A report to senior councillors approved the creation of 14 libraries run by the council – which will see around £1m invested into improving the services – and 12 which could become ‘satellite’ services run by community groups.
Organisations can now submit one application each for up to £12,500 of funding, and must be able to demonstrate the future sustainability of their project through robust business and financial planning.
Coun David Dagger, cabinet member for libraries, said: “Community libraries can make a real difference to the wellbeing, health and happiness of local communities and we want this fund to help give groups the support and initial funding that they need.
“We’ve already had a lot of interest from community groups, and I would encourage them to put together bids in time for the deadline.”
The £100,000 fund is being awarded in two rounds – the deadline for the first round is noon on Monday September 10 and the second deadline is noon on Monday November 12.
To request an application form email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01924 305068.