Cuts petition at Knott End tops 3,000 names

Residents of Knott End were out in force to protest against proposed closures to their public services as a result of council cutbacks.'Residents outside the library, which is earmarked for closure.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'8-1-2016

Residents of Knott End were out in force to protest against proposed closures to their public services as a result of council cutbacks.'Residents outside the library, which is earmarked for closure. PIC BY ROB LOCK'8-1-2016

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More than 3,000 Over Wyre residents have signed a petition against cuts they claim will leave their community stranded.

Campaigners say proposals to axe bus services, the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry, library and youth and community centre will increase social isolation and leave residents unable to get to hospital appointments, work or college.

The cutbacks are looming as Lancashire County Council is forced to slash a further £262m from the budget over next five years.

A petition with more than 3,200 signatures has been sent to Lancashire County Council, along with hundreds of individual letters of protest including letters written by local school children.

And the huge number of names have been gathered in just a few weeks.

Campaign organiser, Preesall Town Coun Pat Greenough said: “We are hoping our protest will show the county council the strength of feeling in our community.

“There are real concerns that the cuts will be felt more deeply in Knott End than anywhere else in Lancashire because we are a rural community, with a high number of older people who rely on the library for social activities and need public transport for hospital appointments.

“Not only that, but many of our young people rely on the bus service for college and to get to work.

“Losing these services would be the thin end of the wedge for us.

“It would severely hamper people’s ability to be able to go about their daily lives, jeopardising their health and wellbeing.”

Brendan Hassett, head teacher of Carter’s Charity Primary School on Pilling Lane, Preesall, said: “They had the petition outside our school and many of our parents will have signed it. There is a lot of concern about the cutbacks and social isolation.

“Some of our parents and children use the buses to get to school and older people in the villages rely on them for health visits, shopping and all sort of other things. The library at Knott End is also well used by many of our children, who go there to do their home work.

“I’m not surprised the petition has been so well supported.”

Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport at Lancashire County Council, said: “The council’s financial situation is very stark and we face using the bulk of our reserves just to balance the budget over the next two years. By 2017/18, we will only just have enough money to pay for our statutory services.

“We fully recognise the impact that this will have on people who rely on frontline services such as subsidised bus services. However, the Government has made clear that it will make further substantial cuts to council budgets over the coming years.”

And Leader, County Coun Jennifer Mein, said the council was open to any ideas that people may have about how to lessen the impact of savings and she urged people to have their say.

See the consultation process at www. lancashire.gov.uk.