No decisions over funding for independently-run libraries will be made until next year, according to council chiefs.
Campaigners have heaped pressure on Sheffield Council to commit to funding for volunteer groups at closure-threatened libraries after a leaked document revealed officers believed they lack ‘real chance’ of staying open without public funding.
In the draft report, officers described council support for covering bills and other costs at the 11 venues facing withdrawal of public cash as being ‘essential to ensure libraries have a real chance’.
Opposition leaders the Liberal Democrats wrote to the council’s Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for communities, calling on him to backtrack on proposals for community-run libraries to fund themselves.
But Coun Mazher refused to cave to mounting pressure and stressed such a decision would not be made until after consultation comes to an end on January 10 next year.
Coun David Baker, Sheffield Liberal Democrat spokesman for libraries, said: “This latest announcement shows there is money available to save libraries – if Labour’s Town Hall bosses have the will.
“It’s clear closing libraries is a local decision and one that could be avoided if Labour politicians cut back on their pet projects and political priorities.
“The potential for funding is a step in the right direction but we need confirmation from the council.
“It’s vital we keep campaigning.”
Coun Iqbal said: “I have met with groups and I am looking to see if there is any further support we can give to independent libraries.
“However, there will be no decisions made on the future of the library service until the cabinet considers the outcome of the consultation.
“We’re looking into how we provide funding for the 11 independent libraries for the first 12 months.”