Anger at proposals to shut services

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

Monday, 9th May 2016, 10:30 am
Updated Monday, 9th May 2016, 11:26 am
The Friends of Ansdell Library's read-in outside the building as part of their campaign to prevent the library's closure

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

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 include Ansdell Library, Freckleton Library, Kirkham Library, Lytham Children’s Centre, Lytham Library and Registration Office, Thornton Library and Cleveleys Library.

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.

Ansdell Library, which families say supports the most vulnerable people in the community, is among the buildings earmarked for closure.

Louise McLaren, chairman of the Friends of Ansdell Library, said: “We are obviously hugely disappointed by the news that Ansdell Library is one of the buildings that has been identified for closure,

“The LCC report claims that ‘95 per cent of those who live in more densely populated areas would be within two miles of their nearest library service’ but the closure of Ansdell and Lytham, as well as Freckleton, libraries will mean this will not simply not the case for many residents on the Fylde.

“We know that many councils across the country have been affected by budget cuts but the proposed devastation to the library service in Lancashire is unprecedented.

“We want LCC to actively engage with us to discuss options other than the wholesale closure of libraries.”

She described libraries as “much more than a place to borrow books”.

She said: “The excellent staff in the libraries run a service that includes events that target all sections of society and provides support for those that need information, IT and local knowledge.

“For many people, especially those more vulnerable members of society, libraries provide essential social contact that would otherwise increase the risk of loneliness and social isolation.”

Freckleton Library is also on the list published by County Hall bosses of “premises that are no longer required to deliver the council’s future pattern of service delivery”.

Brian Willis, chairman of the Friends of Freckleton Library, said he was angry about the proposals.

He said: “We just feel this decision is a bad one.

“This library is used by lots of different people, including the old and vulnerable.

“The Knit and Natter group has supported it very well over the years, they will really miss getting together there.

“We are very upset.”

He said there was a “very large” petition due to be given to Lancashire County Council against the decision, and said MP Mark Menzies also planned to present it in parliament.

Buildings affected under the proposals include libraries, children’s services, children’s centres, young people’s centres, youth offending teams, older people’s daytime support services, adult disability day services and registrars.

In a statement released late on Friday, 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.”