Political row over libraries protest in Wyre

Wyre Conservatives protest outside Fleetwood Library.
Wyre Conservatives protest outside Fleetwood Library.

Wyre Conservative councillors are calling on Lancashire County Council not to carry out its plans to close more than half the county’s branches.

There are fears that libraries in Wyre could be among 40 of Lancashire’s 74 branches to close later this year as a result of huge savings needed.

The Tory group say they are prepared to help create a community interest company in the district to keep libraries open, similar to what has happened in York.

But Coun Lorraine Beavers, a Labour borough and county councillor from Fleetwood, called the campaigners hypocritical for attacking County Hall when the cutbacks were due to the Tory Government’s policies.

Wyre’s Deputy Leader Alan Vincent travelled to York this month to find out more about the way the community interest company was run.

He said: “This is a great model which we have urged Lancashire County Council to look at as a matter of extreme urgency. You have to think outside the box to preserve services which are vital to communities.”

York Libraries CIC has encouraged friends groups to raise cash for individual libraries and has introduced cafes into three libraries and refreshment areas into the rest. They have also recruited 250 volunteers to help run the service

Coun Vincent added: “This shows that there are ways to reduce costs and increase income without decimating services and if members of the public wish to become involved in creating a CIC or in volunteering we would like to hear from them.”

Fleetwood Conservative branch chairman, Peter Cartridge, said: “Labour threaten to consign a key community hub to the history books and their rationale runs against equal access to education.”

But Coun Beavers blasted: “What hypocrisy when their Government’s austerity measures have caused this by taking away 60% of the county council’s budget. The council is doing its best - Cameron and Osborne are the ones taking our libraries away.”