Bradford’s political leaders are refusing to rule out cuts to the district’s “underused” library services.

More than 400 libraries face being axed across the UK as councils react to the Government’s public spending cuts, according to some reports.

Budget proposals are being drawn up by Bradford Council’s political parties before its spending plans for 2011/12 are agreed next month. The libraries service cost the Council almost £6 million to run in 2009/10.

Council leader Councillor Ian Greenwood said: “Obviously the Council has got to make a huge number of reductions and we are looking at every part of the service.

“We are in consultation with staff and until those discussions are over I’m unable to say where those cuts will be.”

Bradford’s libraries have a total membership of 206,125. The Council employs 125 people to run them with wages costing £3.6 million. In the past financial year, 1.6 million books, 39,052 DVDs and 7,136 CDs were loaned.

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat group, said: “What the numbers say is that we spend a lot of money on a service that less than a third of people are using and there has got to be questions to ask to get more value for our money.

“People usually have hugely fond memories of libraries but actually some are underused. The future for libraries is to find new uses for them so they are not just places where we borrow books.

“We have a view as Liberal Democrats that libraries have to become the heart of wherever they are placed and as ward councillor for Idle and Thackley I’m working very hard to secure a future for the library there.”

Libraries should be places where people can get business advice, search for jobs and they should be open all day on Saturdays and Sundays, she said.

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth, leader of the Conservative group, said the Council had tough decisions to make.

She said: “Clearly if residents were asked to rank services that are provided, libraries and other leisure or cultural facilities would not be deemed as important as child protection or services to the elderly, but that does not mean that people would be indifferent to their closure.

“Conservative colleagues and I are hopeful that the local library service will survive largely intact and we will be expecting officers to carefully examine the internal service re-design options and also the provisions of the new Localism Bill to determine whether communities or voluntary groups within them have the capacity and the will to manage the service for themselves.”

In a House of Commons debate this week, Libraries Minister Ed Vaizey said: “No MP can say with all honesty that no library should ever close in any local authority area. We need a strategic vision.

“It is up to local communities, working with local councillors, to keep our libraries open, with volunteers supplementing and working with librarians, rather than replacing them.”