Cabinet dismisses pleas to save county libraries

Coun Jennifer Mein
Coun Jennifer Mein
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It took less than two hours today for Lancashire County Council’s cabinet to sign the final execution papers for a host of Lancashire libraries and children’s centres - despite being forced to think again.

An eleventh hour attempt to make the cabinet reconsider its cost-cutting decision, first taken on September 8, to close more than 100 buildings, including Fulwood, Penwortham and Lytham libraries, failed to convince the ruling Labour group to change its mind.

The hastily convened cabinet meeting followed a “call in” last Thursday by the council’s scrutiny committee.

This followed a cross party demand from Conservative, Labour and Green councillors for a re-think.

A wide ranging war of words between Labour and Conservative councillors saw Tories claiming the council could afford to keep libraries open and Labour blaming Tory Government cuts. There were detailed reports from officers on boththe council’s financial plight - a funding gap of £148m is predicted by 2020/21- and how services and buildings had been assessed for closure, before the cabinet rubber stamped its original plans. It means 21 libraries, including Fulwood, Bamber Bridge, Penwortham, Lytham, Freckleton and Thornton libraries, Garstang Young People’s Centre and Over Wyre Children’s Centre will close their doors on Friday. By November 30 Adlington Library and children’s centre, Whalley library and Spring Wood Children’s Centre and Lostock Hall Library and Children’s Centre will have closed and other closures will follow, with some services relocated to multi-purpose Neighbourhood Centres.

Council leader Coun Jenny Mein said: “I don’t think there can be any doubt at all we are in need of making these cuts.”

She said they were also needed “sooner rather than later” for the sake of those “lining up to take buildings and wondering what the delays are all about” but also for hard working council staff ”who don’t at the moment know what their future is.”