Hit-list of under threat libraries sparks anger

Thornton Library is on the closures hit-list
Thornton Library is on the closures hit-list

Proposals to close more than 100 buildings – including libraries and children’s centres – in Lancashire have been met with anger.

Lancashire County Council bosses have confirmed the locations of 105 premises it proposes to shut down, as it attempts to save £200m.

Coun Jennifer Mein

Coun Jennifer Mein

Leaders are proposing the closure of a raft of libraries, adult disability centres and children’s centres, suggesting bringing services together to form a network of “multi-functional buildings”, known as neighbourhood centres, for different services in one place.

Buildings on the hit list for Wyre include:

• Cleveleys Library and Children’s Centre

• Fleetwood Children’s Centre (designated)

I’m acutely aware that people have a very strong connection to their local services, particularly places like libraries

• Poulton Children’s Centre

• Thornton Library

• Thornton Young People’s Centre

• Thornton Youth Offending Team (Marsh Mill)

The number of libraries at fixed locations would reduce from 73 to 44, with 37 of them offering a fully-staffed service.

Subject to cabinet approval, a 12-week consultation is due to begin on May 18. A final decision will be made later this year.

County Coun Jenny Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “The severity of the council’s financial position cannot be overstated, and the ongoing cuts in central government funding combined with rising demand for our services mean the only way we can maintain the services that people rely on is to deliver them in a different way.”

“These proposals are very difficult ones for councillors to have to consider, but our aim is to come up with a solution that still gives everyone in Lancashire good access to good services, even though some will have to be further away than they are now.”

“I’m acutely aware that people have a very strong connection to their local services, particularly places like libraries.

“These proposals are very difficult ones to consider, but our aim is to come up with a solution that still gives everyone in Lancashire good access to good service.

“The fact we’re considering as many as 238 buildings in this process reflects the way services have developed over several decades when the council had more money to spend. We really need to think about where services are most needed and how we can reduce the costs.

“Following the cabinet meeting we intend to put these plans out to consultation and we’ll be very keen for people to express their views.”

Coun Andrea Kay, Conservative councillor for Pheasants Wood in Thornton, said she was bitterly disappointed the Thornton and Cleveleys branches looked likely to close.

She said: “We will fight these closures and look at others ways of keeping them open. We have already started our campaign and hope residents will support us.

The proposals include the formation of new ‘hub’ centres to house a multitude of services across the county.

Coun Richard Redcliffe of the Friends of Ansdell Library, which has held a read-in and public meeting over the closure threat, said it was important the authority releases details of the operational costs of each individual library.

He said: “That is vital to the issue and I believe those figures will show Ansdell has some of the lowest operational costs in the county.”