Public inquiry threat over libraries axe

Paul Maynard
Paul Maynard
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Lancashire County Council could be dragged into a public inquiry if it presses ahead with library closure plans.

That is the warning from one Fylde coast MP today.

Conservative Paul Maynard, who represents Blackpool North and Cleveleys has urged County Hall bosses to get around the table and discuss proposals to keep all Wyre branches open.

And he warned he may refer the authority to culture secretary John Whittingdale as a last resort.

Mr Maynard believes Lancashire’s proposed closures impacting on libraries in Thornton and Cleveleys as well as centres in Ansdell, Fairhaven, Kirkham and Lytham, may constitute a breach of the 1964 Public Libraries Act.

The act says the authority must provide a ‘fair and broad’ library services.

Wirral Council is the only other authority to be challenged under the act and was taken to public inquiry in 2009.

“There may very well be a better case here,” said Mr Maynard.

“The cuts being proposed are far more severe.

“The Secretary of State can instigate a public inquiry if he feels it is justified.

“I have not yet had the chance to approach him on the issue but I would be minded to raise it should the county position not change.”

Mr Maynard is supporting proposals to transfer Wyre’s libraries, including those Lancashire is proposing to retain, to a not-for-profit community interest company.

The idea has already proved a sucess in York but has up to now been rejected by County Hall.

“I think it is a good idea,” said Mr Maynard.

“It can work for Wyre and for Fylde.

“We don’t want to end up with a public enquiry, we just want Lancashire County Councilt to sit down and talk.”