BRADFORD's Museums and galleries have seen an increase in visitors in the past year - despite ongoing cuts to their budgets.

Austerity driven cuts have led to the budgets for Bradford's museums and library services being slashed in recent years, and later today councillors will hear how cuts have impacted the services.

A report to the Council's Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee will show that despite the cuts, more people have visited the district's four Council run museums than last year. And after moving over to being run by community groups rather than by the Council, many of Bradford's libraries are now thriving.

However, the report warns that in the coming years more cuts are expected - and it could lead to reduced opening hours for museums and art galleries.

The report says: "Staff continue to deliver excellent service to all our customers, despite a reduction in full time equivalents. In Libraries from 132 FTE in 2011 to 72.8 FTE present day."

The library budget has reduced year on year since 2011 from £3,958,000 to £3,100,000 in 2018/19. The report reveals further savings of £905,000 are planned in the next year.

In the museum service staff numbers have fallen from 83.1 full time equivalent in 2011 to 47.1 FTE today.

The museums budget has been cut from £ 3,023,300 in 2014/15 to £1,871,900 in 2018/19.

Further cuts of £260,000 are planned in 2019/20.

There are currently 10 libraries managed by the Council, 17 that are community managed and two that are "hybrid," staffed by both volunteers and paid Council staff.

The report says that there is normally a drop in use after a library goes from being Council run to community run, and it can take up to 18 months for a library to re-establish itself as a community hub. Last year there were 37,663 "active customers" of the district's libraries.

In 2017/18 the district's museums and galleries welcomed 229,000 visitors, up from 212,000 the previous year.

The most popular museum was Cliffe Castle in Keighley - 72,812 visited the museum, which saw a major refurbishment including restored Victorian glasshouses and improved park. This was up from 53,289 the previous year.

The opening of the David Hockney Gallery last summer saw a 30 per cent rise in visitors to Cartwright Hall in Manningham, 62,826 last year, up from 47,839 the previous year.

Bolling Hall Museum's visitor numbers rose from 23,279 to 24,015.

Bradford Industrial Museum was the only one to see a drop in visitor numbers, 58,438 in 2017/18 compared to 59,961 in 2016/17.

The report shows that despite the improving visitor numbers, cuts may impact museum opening times, adding: "The Museums Services response to budget reductions over the last 2-3 years has included a number of changes to the public offer including a limited school holiday family activities which can be fully supported by the site staff team. A reduction in exhibitions and a greater emphasis on exhibitions derived from the service extensive permanent collections.

"This does put additional pressure of the small curatorial team and this area has to be closely monitored. Site operational and public opening times have been reviewed and amended where possible to reduce public opening times. Further reductions

in opening times can not be ruled out due to low levels of front of house staffing."

The committee meets in City Hall at 5.30pm today.