Booking in for closure protest

Louise McLaren, chairman of the friends of Ansdell library, with a leaflet outlining the case against closure

Louise McLaren, chairman of the friends of Ansdell library, with a leaflet outlining the case against closure

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Fylde campaigners are stepping up their protest against threatened cuts to more than half of Lancashire’s libraries.

The Friends of Ansdell Library are staging a ‘read-in’ this weekend amid fears that some of Fylde’s five libraries – the others are at St Annes, Lytham, Kirkham and Freckleton – could be set for the axe and Fylde MP Mark Menzies has pledged his support.

Mr Menzies will join author and storyteller Dan Worsley, local authors Philip Caine and Joan Woodcock, Ansdell councillor Richard Redcliffe and town crier Colin Ballard for the event on Saturday morning.

Friends chairman Louise McLaren said: “We are expecting lots of people to come along as we have distributed 5,000 leaflets in the local area and have had many pledges of support on our Facebook page.”

Louise said the Friends fear that Lytham St Annes could be left with only one library, with two closing, although the County Council have been quick to stress that no decision on locations have yet been made.

The Friends’ chairman added: “That would obviously have a massive effect on the well being of many of our local residents who depend on the library for information, social events and IT access as well as borrowing books.”

The County Council, looking to make £262m worth of budget cuts by 2020, have announced that 40 of the current 74 libraries across the county face the axe.

But it will be some time yet before it is known which libraries across the county are to close, with the second phase of a detailed consultation process about to get under way.

A spokesman said: “We have already sought input from the public about what they want to see in the libraries and which services are the most vital to them.

“The results of that consulation are still been analysed.

“Once that is done, the next phase will follow, with a detailed look at where those services should be located.

“Absolutely no decisions have been taken yet about which particular librares will close and it will be some time yet, after the results of the next phase of the consultation are known, before that is decided.”

Mr Menzies said: “I was extremely disappointed to hear about Lancashire County Council’s plans to curtail library services as I believe libraries provide a vital public service for the community.

“I have been in contact with local councillors in all affected areas in Fylde to urge them to support their local libraries. I have also made clear to county hall my vehement objection to proposed closures and intend to attend the ‘read-in’ at Ansdell Library.

“Libraries are run by local authorities but they have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive service under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and I am determined Lancashire continues to fulfil its responsibilities.

“Over the years, even before the financial crisis, I heard many well-rehearsed arguments about budget constraints as councils have looked to close libraries across the country. However, I know that many local authorities have managed to avoid library closures altogether, despite reductions in their budgets.”

Coun Redcliffe said: “It is important that we make the point just how important Ansdell Library is to our village.

“Ansdell has a tight-knit community for which our vibrant, suuccessful library operates as social hub, so this isn’t just about the potential loss of our library - we would lose what effectively serves as our community centre.

“We understand that cuts have to be made but we want to engage with Lancashire County Council and take time to come up with a creative solution which would allow this vital facility which is such a large part of a small community to continue.”

Saturday’s read-in at the library in Commonside starts at 10.30am. Details at www.facebook.com/save.ansdell.library