BRADFORD Council has once again been criticised over the £420,000 it pays each year to rent space for City Library, with campaigners saying a better deal could safeguard the District's libraries for years to come.

And one Councillor called for Council bosses to hold an 'urgent review' of the facility's costs.

The eye watering rent costs that the Council pays for the City Park library emerged last year during a debate on a planned shake up of the library service.

The city centre library moved into the unit, overlooking the mirror pool, in 2013. It was previously based in what is now Margaret Macmillan Tower, but that building was condemned as a fire risk in 2011 and was dealt a further blow in 2013 when asbestos was found throughout the building.

The old library has since been refurbished and is home to the Council's Children's Services department.

The £420,000 annual rent had been a huge strain on the library budget, but last year the Council revealed that the lease costs had been moved to other Council budget pots, and would no longer weigh down the stretched library budget.

The issue arose at a meeting of Bradford Council on Tuesday when members were hearing a petition, signed by over 1,800 people, calling for Keighley Library to remain open.

Cash-strapped Bradford Council criticised over £420,000-a-year lease on City Library

There had been no plans to close Keighley Library, and it is due to become one of three library hubs in the District as part of a shake up in the service.

Jane Lee, from the Friends of Keighley Library, said pointed out that Keighley Library was the first public Carnegie Library, and was a vital part of the town centre.

She suggested that rent for City Library from previous years should also be shifted to other budgets.

She said this would allow a review of funding for the library service, help secure the future of all the District's libraries, and maintain the current provision in Keighley.

Bradford Council had previously said it was planning to keep all the District's libraries open thanks to an injection of £700,000 cash from the public health budget. Council officers had said libraries offered an important social function, which justified using public health funding.

In response to Mrs Lee, Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Executive for Healthy People and Places, said: "We have a commitment to Keighley Library, which we were never going to close. What a fantastic building and facility it is."

She said the library was an "important part of the heritage in the District."

Councillor Adrian Naylor (Craven, Independent) pointed out that the Council had signed a 10 year lease for City Library, meaning it will have paid a total of £4.2 million by the time the lease ends.

He said the new owners of the complex, also known as the banana building and also including Wetherspoons, paid a similar amount for the entire building.

He added: "The lease for the library has covered the cost for that entire building. Most landlords would give their eye teeth for such a deal.

"The costs of City Library need to be subject of an urgent review. I urge the Council to move this petition to the Executive, and for the Executive to look at the unsustainable costs of City Library."

He said such a review could save libraries across the district.

Members voted that the petition be considered at a future executive meeting.