WORRIED library lovers of all ages have been promised their voices will be heard and that they have a year to rescue threatened services across Shipley district.

A consultation meeting held in Keighley Library last night was attended by local interest groups ranging from military research group Men of Worth to members of Baildon Youth Council.

Bradford Council's principal libraries officer, Jackie Kitwood,gave the stark reality of government funding cuts being translated by City Hall into either passing 17 outlying libraries into voluntary control - or closing them.

She said 70 per cent of the service's £3.2 million annual budget was spent on wages and it was hoped the proposed changes would save £291,000 from the bill for the financial year 2017/18, when any changes would take place.

If Full Council votes on February 25 to just keep seven major libraries under its control and lose the rest, intense negotiations will begin with people keen to start Community Managed Libraries (CMLs).

CMLs would be given the buildings, such as those in Silsden, Baildon, Menston and Burley, including the books, computers and contents at peppercorn rents.

There would be support with recruitment and training of volunteers, all of utility costs and rates would be paid, plus funding for activities, events and approved repairs.

CMLs would have to be properly accountable, open for agreed times, kept clean and tidy and support the national literacy and learning schemes.

They would also have to take out their own public liability insurance for volunteers.

Describing libraries as "the emotional hearts of communities", Bradford Council education and culture portfolio holder Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe told the meeting:"These proposals are very sad and none of us really want to take this step.

"But we've hung on for as long as we can.

"I want to keep the library service, but it will have to change."

Ian Walkden, of Men of Worth, asked for a guarantee Keighley Library itself would not be moved into any new community building that might be built on the old Keighley College site and was told there was no such plan.

Ward councillor for Craven Andrew Mallinson (Con) was concerned on behalf of Silsden Library by a lack of detailed figures and costing and said the timing was rushed, denying town and parish councils time to plan options before Full Council decides next month.

However Cllr Hinchcliffe said she could not grant his wish for "a guaranteed 12-month stay of execution".

A Silsden resident accused the Council of "again chopping at the outer reaches, while investing in the centre of Bradford and expecting people on the outskirts to act as a cash cow."

Keighley resident Roy Price suggested corporate sponsorship of libraries might be a solution.

Baildon town councillor David Shaw was present with members of the Baildon Youth Council and Salts School student Cerys Peel said young people were shocked at the idea of library closures and recognised their importance to people of all ages.

Cllr Hinchcliffe promised the meeting there would be a full year of direct negotiation with any interested parties following any decision taken on the proposed changes.