Fears over charges to use Blackpool libraries

Blackpool's Central Library
Blackpool's Central Library
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Proposals to introduce an annual charge to use Blackpool’s libraries have been shelved for the time-being.

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Town hall chiefs had been considering a premium library membership of £20 per year “as a potential income generation opportunity”, according to a council report.

But this has now been dropped pending a wider review of the service.

However it could still be on the table in the future.

The report says: “The timing is not right in 2018 as a new head of libraries is being tasked with reviewing the service offer as a whole which may lead to revised fees and charges recommended in 2019-20.

“The premium membership proposal may be resurrected as part of these proposals.”

It means charges will remain the same for the coming year, including fines of 20p per day up to a maximum of £10 for items returned late.

The cost of reserving books will remain at 70p for books in Blackpool’s own stock, and £4 for books from outside the town.

Coun Tony Williams (pictured), leader of the Conservatives on the council, said he hoped fees would not increase and added he would not support an annual membership scheme.

He said : “A rise in library charges will be nothing more than a disgraceful tax on education and literacy and could seriously affect regular users who depend on books for their enjoyment and learning.”

Coun Williams also called for a 14-day amnesty so people could bring backs books for a short time without a fine.

Despite cuts to its budget, the Labour-run council has not closed any libraries in recent years.

Schemes such as the launch of a community cafe at Anchorsholme Library by ward councillors Tony Williams and Paul Galley are helping to support the town’s network of libraries.