COUNCILLORS say they are “disappointed” that they have yet to be told how Bradford’s library service is preparing to deal with a huge cut to its budget in the next year.

Members of Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee had requested a report into how the district’s library service would look after £950,000 is removed from its budget in the 2019/20 financial year.

But the report they were given at a meeting on Tuesday focused on the work that has been done already to try to maintain the service after previous year’s budget cuts.

In the debate that followed, members claimed libraries were already struggling with reduced resources, with some having to close for lunch because they were so short staffed.

Government cuts to local authorities has meant Bradford Council has had to make budget cuts to many departments, including its library service.

Since 2011, 17 of the district’s libraries have become “community run” with volunteers replacing Council staff.

Ten are still operated by the council, and two run on a “hybrid” model.

The report presented to the committee said: “The significant library budget saving of £950k in 2019/20 will impact greatly on service provision. Work is ongoing to identify a service that can be delivered with proposed budgets, and includes embedding Community Managed Libraries beyond 2020.”

Councillor Ralph Berry (Lab, Wibsey) said: “This is an interesting report and it sets out the journey so far, but our specific request was a report looking at the future role of libraries and where we are going next.”

Maggie Pedley, manager of libraries, museums and galleries, pointed out that her job title was an example of how the museums and library services were coming closer together to save costs.

She said: “This is why I’m sitting here as museum and library manager, rather than there being a manager for each service here. We will be looking to further merge services budgets and job roles.”

Cllr Berry replied: “I wanted to know what you are planning to do next, I’m a little bit annoyed that isn’t here when the budget is being prepared.”

Councillor Brendan Stubbs (Lib Dem, Eccleshill), said: “I was equally annoyed we didn’t get what we asked for.”

He questioned staffing levels at the Council run libraries, saying: “I often get emails saying the local library has had to shut early or shut for lunch due to staffing levels.

“Do we have any idea of how many hours the public have lost from these libraries due to these issues? I would really like that to be in the report. It is important that whatever service we end up providing, it is a service people can rely on – that opens when it says it will open on the door.”

Mrs Pedley said that due to the upcoming budget cuts, the Council run libraries were currently carrying a number of vacancies, and this meant when libraries didn’t have the right staffing numbers they would have to close early.

The community libraries opening hours depend on the number of volunteers they have, and opening hours range from six hours a week (Heaton) to 40 hours a week (Allerton).

A report from the community run Holme Wood Library handed to members said that while the library was generally doing well, there had been a shortage of books, and the limited stock, of just 1,500 books, was hurting its loaning service.

Councillor Joanne Dodds (Lab, Great Horton) said: “It is a challenge, Great Horton has a community managed library and they had to reduce hours because of a difficulty recruiting volunteers.

“Holme Wood Library has been doing fantastic work, but I find it concerning that they have had the issue of low stock.”

Mrs Pedley said work was being done to make sure all community libraries were better linked and able to access the resources they need.

The committee urged the service to provide a full report looking at the future of libraries.