Kirklees Council is opening up all 24 libraries in the district – including the main library in Huddersfield town centre – as ‘warm spaces’ for people to escape the cold and seek respite from rising fuel bills.
‘Warm Spaces’ are friendly and comfortable places where residents can keep warm and spend time with other people.
Libraries have free wi-fi and access to computers and will also offer support and advice with money, bills and food.
Clr Paul Davies, Cabinet member for corporate services, said: “We are utilising our libraries as Warm Spaces because we know the cost of heating the home is going to be a significant concern for many people over the winter months.
“From the beginning of this cost-of-living crisis we’ve been helping residents access support to reduce the financial pressure they’re facing, and this is another way in which we are supporting our residents.
“Our libraries are fantastic facilities, in the heart of our communities, and they have exceptional members of staff working at them.
“They are well equipped to ensure that anyone who visits them will benefit from the advice and support that is available through the trained staff and the resources on offer.
“Whatever the reasons residents have for coming to our Warm Spaces they will receive a warm welcome and access to vital support.”
You can find a local library by visiting the Kirklees Libraries’ website: Find your local library. Libraries have varied opening times so please always check before making the journey.
Kirklees Council is also working in partnership with community organisations who are planning to offer Warm Spaces across Kirklees during the winter months. These could include community centres and halls, cafes and community hubs.
Next week, Cabinet is set to approve funding provided by the West Yorkshire Mayor’s Cost of Living Emergency Fund that will be made available to charities and community groups to support residents in their local area.
This funding will support local organisations to build on their current offer of help by being a Warm Space as well as providing advice and support, and food and fuel vouchers.
Meanwhile, the council is taking action to limit the impact of energy price rises on heating its own buildings. That goes as far as ‘mothballing’ some buildings and shutting off gas, electricity and water completely.
At a recent Cabinet meeting, Clr Davies was asked what action the council was taking to combat rising energy costs.
He said: “We are using software which allows us to monitor and amend our heating systems more remotely which has come into use with immediate effect.
“We are connecting more assets to that, as we speak, and it is something we are going to continue to roll out.
“We are also revisiting our energy statement and working with staff to make sure all services have a buy-in to the plan. We are also working closely with our teams on the ground, especially our technical teams and caretakers in a number of areas.”
Clr Davies said TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves) on individual radiators were now set at 3 and not the top setting of 5.
He added: “You might think that sounds a bit silly but if you think of what we have across our assets base the difference that will make in terms of our energy use will be huge.
“We are also managing heating times and days more effectively, particularly around empty assets.
“On top of that we are mothballing some assets. We are shutting down the water, gas and electricity in these assets.”