A LAST minute Conservative motion to debate the fate of two Calderdale libraries earmarked for closure failed to get a hearing.

Conservative group leader Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) asked the final full Calderdale Council meeting before May’s local elections allow a motion to be debated at short notice.

But the group was criticised by opposition groups who said with no notice councillors could not properly digest and research what was being proposed, and a vote on whether the motion should be put was lost.

Coun Leigh said they had planned to table the motion about libraries at council on February 9, but they had complained to the Government about the time taken for consultation.

It was adjudged then that a debate might prejudice any inquiry and must be treated as confidential – they were unable to table the motion.

Afterwards it transpired this was not correct – however it was too late to table the motion for the current meeting.

Councillors heard the motion would be to discuss the situation over Hipperholme and Greetland libraries.

These had been earmarked for closure under the Future Council programme in 2020 along with others, but unlike others, which were progressing as community asset transfers, no expressions of interest in taking them on had been received so the buildings were earmarked for disposal.

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Deputy Leader of the Council, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot), said there was no precedent across the parties – Calderdale had never suspended standing orders to take an emergency motion, she said, and also queried the nature of the “emergency”.

The situation in Ukraine, pandemic and flood were examples of urgency but there were other routes available for other issues to be discussed, said Coun Scullion.

Liberal Democrat group leader Coun James Baker (Warley) said he thought there should be the chance to hear motions but there were certain rules and procedures to allow members to digest what was in them.

It was a “shocking display of people not understanding council procedures,” he said.

Coun Felicity Issott (Con, Ryburn), supporting Coun Leigh, said it was an issue of transparency, just because something had not been done before did not mean it could not be done and other councillors should stop insinuating her colleagues did not understand the rules.

Coun George Robinson (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) said the proposals would keep the two libraries open and needed to be debated before the end of the council year.

“Why do I think it needs to happen? Because Hipperholme and Greetland libraries will be disposed of in 2022-23.

“It’s transparent to be discussed by 51 councillors,” he said.

But Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn (Lab, Calder) said he would not be lectured on transparency by the Conservatives and referred to the group’s submission of its budget proposals on the day of Budget Council at the end of February.

“It’s not transparent to submit a budget on the last day or to put a motion on the last day of council,” he said.