Bill to reopen axed Lancashire libraries nears £1m

There was a passionate local campaign to keep Adlington Library open
There was a passionate local campaign to keep Adlington Library open
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Councillors have voted to fund nearly £850,000 of work to reopen 11 of Lancashire’s closed libraries.

The county council’s cabinet also threw a new lifeline to Adlington library.

The cabinet’s decisions, made today, will help fulfil a May election pledge to re-open libraries closed as a money saving measure by the previous Labour administration.

It’s expected to cost £110,554 to reopen Fulwood library, £186,512 to reopen Lostock Hall, £96,086 for Whalley and £93,783 for Freckleton library. The future of Bamber Bridge library has still to be decided.

Coun leader Coun Geoff Driver said if the previous administration had heeded Tory amendments to keep library services running: “It would have saved something approaching £1m and I hope people take notice of that.”

Adlington library had remained open with Chorley Borough Council funding which is due to end next March. Councillors agreed the library will now remain open after this date with a full library service. They also voted to rescind the previous council’s decision to declare Adlington library and Children’s Centre building surplus to requirements.

The Friends Of Adlington Library had previously submitted a detailed application for a Community Asset Transfer (CAT), but decided they would prefer the county council to operate a library service. They were thanked for their work and enthusiasm. The council says by April 2018 it will be running 57 libraries.

Next the cabinet gave the go-ahead in principle for the community asset transfer of Cleveleys Library and Children’s Centre and the creation of an independent community library there. Community organisation UR Potential submitted a detailed application for the transfer. It also wants to make the buildings available for community use, providing opportunities for learning and activities to help reduce social isolation.

If the application progresses it will mean six independent community libraries are in development in Lancashire.

After the meeting County Coun Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “We will now support UR Potential to establish the library, and will continue to work with them to progress the asset transfer so that people have access to another library which will complement the service operated by the county council.”

He continued: “I would like to thank all of the voluntary and community groups for their commitment to the library service and its future development.”

An application for community asset transfer (CAT) had been received from 1st Bamber Bridge Scout Group to take on the Bamber Bridge as their new headquarters. The council has asked the scouts to consider amending their proposal to include operating an independent community library. and a decision from scouts is due by the end of September.

The go-ahead was also given for an eight-week consultation, from Monday October 2 to Sunday November 26, on new library opening hours.

The council is inviting library users, staff and partner organisations to share views on plans to allocate each library to one of four different bands depending upon local need. To take part fill in a printed questionnaire, available at local and mobile libraries, or complete an online survey at www.lancashire.gov.uk/haveyoursay, by clicking on ‘Consultations’ ,and then ‘Library opening hours consultation’.

Coun Buckley said: “We want to make sure that the service provided to our customers is as streamlined and efficient as possible. We’re proposing changes to when libraries will be open, and overall this would mean them being open for more hours in total across the county. We’ve designed the proposed model according to when we know they’re most used, with the aim of better meeting demand with the resources we have. There will be no difference in the quality of service between bands.”

The model being proposed is: Band A – Open for 50 hours over six days every week ; Band B – Open for 42 hours over six days every week ;Band C – Open for 34 hours over five days every week ; Band D – Open for 18 hours over four days every week.