A PUBLIC meeting will be held over the future of Birstall Community Centre and Library.

Resident Ian Blamires and Birstall and Birkenshaw councillors Andrew Palfreeman and Elizabeth Smaje (both Con), have set up a community interest company, called Birstall Community Holdings Limited, to take on the running of the building, which includes Birstall Library and Community Centre, Market Street, as an asset transfer from Kirklees Council.

The group plan to run the building and the community centre themselves and aim to get charitable status.

They then plan to lease the library back to the Council for the authority to continue to run.

Mr Blamires claims the Council has proposed that his group initially takes over the Birstall Community Centre part of the building on a six-month lease starting on April 1 this year.

Birstall Community Holdings Limited would then take on a total asset transfer of the whole building, which would also include Birstall Library, from October 1 this year.

The group will hold a public meeting to discuss the proposal on Monday, February 27, from 7pm, at Birstall Irish Democratic League Club, High Street, Birstall.

Mr Blamires, who is a semi-retired businessman, hopes the move will secure the future of the building as a community site.

He said: “We want to keep it as it is, 100 per cent for the community.

“The whole building has got to stay in community use. We want all of the services to carry on exactly as it is now.

“We are working towards taking an asset transfer for the whole of the building to Birstall Community Holdings Limited. It is a community organisation, that is not for profit.”

Mr Blamires added: “We are working to preserve the library and community centre for the benefit of the Birstall community.

“We met on Wednesday with our solicitors to discuss the plans.

“We also plan to set up a charity as part of our plans too.

“We will keeping people informed as we progress over the next six months.”

A Kirklees Council spokesman: “We have received an expression of interest for the Asset Transfer of Birstall Community Centre from Birstall Community Holdings.

"We are working with the group to agree the transfer and have proposed a six-month lease from April 1, as an interim measure until a transfer is brought forward.”

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin has backed Birstall Community Holding’s proposals, wishing them well with their potential venture.

She said: “Birstall Community Centre is a valuable and well-loved community asset. I know how important it is to my mum and many others, offering not only access to learning but to friendship and community as well.

“I’m pleased that in these difficult financial circumstances the community will find a way to keep our services open, I wish the group and Birstall Community Centre well for the future.”

Birstall Library remains fully staffed by council employees despite cost-cutting plans from Kirklees Council in 2015.

Members of the Cabinet approved plans to withdraw the six-vehicle mobile library service and reduce the number of full-time equivalent staff by 88.

The moves saved the Council a total of £1.8 million from a libraries budget of £5.7m.