Campaign group to again press for return of Library to Institute

Campaigners at a previous protest outside the Institute building
Campaigners at a previous protest outside the Institute building

A campaign group is determined to do all it can to press the case for a return of Lytham's former library to community use.

The Friends of Lytham Institute and Library will take to the town's main street on Saturday to make their point about the Institute building - out of use since the library closed there almost three years ago - just as a date is announced for opening of the library in a new location.

Lancashire County Council is to restore a library service to Lytham on Thursday, August 15, but in the town's Assembly Rooms, which it feels will be cheaper to run in Institute in Clifton Street - its home for more than 100 years until September 2016.

As the final preparations are made for the town's library service to be launched at the new location ,uncertainty still surrounds the future of the Institute, which is owned by Fylde Council.

The Friends, supported by Lytham St Annes Civic Society, feel strongly that it should be retained for community use and will march from the Institute to the Assembly Rooms in Dicconson Terrace on Saturday from 11am to make their point.

Friends secretary Julie McGreevy said: “The Lytham Institute belongs to the people of Lytham both councils are disregarding their responsibilities towards the community. The people of Lytham deserve better."

The Friends, who are inviting people to join them for Saturday's march, feel a library housed in the Assembly Rooms would be "an inadequate facility" chosen on the basis of financial considerations, citing disabled access they feel is less than satisfactory.

"The decision to place the library in the Assembly Rooms is lacking in justice and therefore cannot be final," added Julie.

"We are dismayed that LCC continues to push ahead to reopen the Lytham Library in a space that is not fit for purpose particularly lacking adequate disabled access.

"The decision reached last June to use the Assembly Rooms was lacking in transparency and accountability.

"We will continue to press this matter until our legitimate concerns are addressed."

Marion Coupe, chairman of the Lytham St Annes Civic Society, said: "Lytham Institute should be retained for community use.

"We have retained a barrister who has given her opinion that Fylde Council holds the building as sole trustee of the charity which was set up when it was gifted in 1917.

"This opinion was made available to FBC earlier this year but there has been no response from them.

"The Civic Society is not represented on any other group associated with this but will work with anyone who has similar aims for the building.

"We regret the relocation of the library to the Assembly Rooms and the subsequent loss of a community room there.

A spokesman for Fylde Council said: "Due to the library services being owned and run by Lancashire County Council, the decision of where to locate the library services would be made by them.

"With regards to the future use of Institute, which will belong to Fylde Council once Lancashire County Council remove their user rights, this will be considered by councillors and will include consultation with local stakeholders."

The library will be opened in its new location on at 9am on August 15 by County Coun Tim Ashton, who represents the Lytham at County Hall.

He said: "I am absolutely delighted that Lytham will soon have a library open once again.

"People in Lytham have really missed their library and I couldn't be more pleased to be here to deliver on our commitment to reopen it.

"Libraries are a really important service for local communities and it is wonderful to see that so many have now reopened.

"They allow everyone, whatever their circumstances, the opportunity to access books and information on their doorstep.

"They are also places where people can meet, and all ages can interact and share interests, which means they also play a vital role in helping people to maintain their health and wellbeing."