Rallying call to save our libraries
Fylde faces the prospect of losing four of its current five libraries in their present form under cost-cutting proposals by Lancashire County Council, which runs the service but is looking to make savings of £200m by 2020-21.
Already, thousands of Fylde folk have signed petitions and held protest events after it was revealed that the current libraries at Lytham, Ansdell, Kirkham and Freckleton could all close if the County Council proposals go ahead – potentially leaving only St Annes in this area.
The Friends of Ansdell Library has stressed how vital it is that as many people as possible make their voices heard before the consultation period concludes on August 14.
The group is determined that Ansdell will retain some form of book service, whatever the County Council decides, and Friends chairman Louise McLaren said: “We are exploring all options that are open to us in light of the library building being on the list for closure.
“This means looking at ways we can persuade Lancashire County Council to rethink its plans for closure as well as contingency action in case the closure goes ahead.
“Fylde is potentially going to be hit much harder than any other area in Lancashire, which seems unjust when we are an area that has a higher proportion of older people who have a high level of dependancy on libraries and the services that they provide.
“As a priority we want people to complete the ‘Have Your Say’ survey available through the Lancashire County Council website or in paper format at the library.
“It is the best way we have of people directly contacting the Council and we would recommend that people take the opportunity to express strongly how the closure of their library will impact them directly in the relevant sections.
“There is also a petition on the UK Government and Parliament website that covers all the closures proposed by LCC that we are urging everyone to sign ‘Stop Lancashire’s tragic library and museum closures by proper government funding’.
“If we can get to 10,000 signatures this will prompt a response from the Government. The best option is definitely getting LCC to reconsider their devastating decisions around Fylde libraries.
“As an contingency plan we are also looking at the option of what possibilities there are if we were able to take over the use of the building.
“We only have a few weeks to get a case together so we are asking people to act now. Please act now to save our library service.”
Lytham campaigner Anne McGettigan said signatures on a petition against library closures there have now topped 3,500 and steps were being taken to increase awareness in the coming weeks, with a likely regular presence in the centre of town.
“The reaction from people so far has been very encouraging but it is vital that as many people as possible make the County Council know their feelings on the matter,” she said.
Lancashire County Council say around 2,700 responses have been received so far from across the county since the launch of the public consultation over what it terms its ‘property review’ on May 18.
The Council is completely reappraising how frontline services are delivered as it looks to save the millions of pounds required by reducing the number of buildings the council owns and rents.
County Coun David Borrow, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council with responsibility for finance, said: “We’re very keen for people to look at how they may be affected and respond to the consultation to help us shape the final proposals.”
Under the plans, services would be brought together to form a network of multi-functional buildings known as Neighbourhood Centres, which would provide a base for a range of different services in one place. Kirkham is among the areas where such a facility is proposed.