A petition calling for Lytham library to be reopened has got off to a flying start.
The Friends of Lytham Library and Institute were delighted with the reaction to the latest aspect of their campaign to bring library facilities back to the town more than 12 months after the Clifton Street building closed.
Around 600 signatures were gathered as the petition was offered to passers-by at a specially set-up table outside the former library – and Friends officials are hopeful of gathering many more, with the petition having been placed in a host of locations ahead of a November 1 deadline.
The Friends organisation was set up earlier this year in a bid to revive the library following its closure on September 30 last year as part of a wave of economy cuts by Lancashire County Council’s previous Labour regime.
On being elected back to power at County Hall last May, the Conservatives pledged to reopen the libraries which had been closed, but the wait at Lytham goes on.
The County Hall Cabinet is due to discuss its future early next month and the Friends want to show the strength of feeling in the town ahead of that.
Already, the Friends have been encouraged by he turnout at public meetings held to highlight the matter and they have another planned for November 7.
Friends chairman Christine Marshall said: “It was great to see how many people were very happy to sign the petition and they spoke affectionately about the building and how much it was valued by them and their families over the years.
“The aim of the petition is to show how much support Lytham Library has and how much people value the building as a community facility. It will be presented to councillors at County Hall before they make any firm decisions over the fate of Lytham Library.
“The petition is available to sign in many outlets throughout the town.
“We hope people will make the effort to sign it if they would like the library service back in the Lytham Institute building.”
The building at the heart of the town centre, which was first used as a library in Victorian times, has been lying empty since it closed more than 12 months ago.
The clamour for it to be reopened has intensified since St Annes Library, originally intended by Labour to be the only surviving Fylde library, had to be closed until the New Year because of structural problems.
With Freckleton Library also still to reopen after being closed at the same time as Lytham, Ansdell and Kirkham are currently the only two functioning libraries in Fylde.
County Coun Peter Buckley, County Council cabinet member for library services, said: “We want to reopen the libraries which were closed as soon as we can. A report is being prepared for the Cabinet meeting in November which will set out the Lytham Library situation and provide the basis for further progress.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies was at the petition launch at the weekend and said: “I met library campaigners in Lytham on Saturday who are calling for the return of a library to the town as soon as possible.
“The Conservatives pledged to reopen all of the libraries closed under the previous Labour administration and, while it is taking longer than I hoped for, there is work going on behind the scenes to ensure Lytham residents will soon be able to use a library once again.
“I believe it is vital we get our library service back in town as soon as possible.”
The Lytham petition asks for signatories to ‘Please help us to save Lytham Institute and Lytham Library’ and is available to sign at the following locations in Lytham: Warton Street Post Office; Park Street Post Office; Costa; Heima; Legends Barbers; Park View Cafe; The Friendly Gym; Booths, Haven Road; Lytham Heritage Centre; Lytham Art Society; Vinyl Groove Cafe; ‘Chells Cafe; Oxfam; Lytham Hall; Bargain Booze, Warton Street; Lytham CE School; St Peter’s RC Primary School; St.Peter’s RC Church; St John’s Church; St Cuthbert’s Church as well as at Ansdell Library, the Co-op and St Paul’s charity shop in Ansdell and Booths, St Annes.