Fight launched to save vital services

Borough councillors in Ribble Valley have formed a working group to fight the proposed closure of several libraries and children's centres.
Willows Park Children's Centre.Willows Park Children's Centre.
Willows Park Children's Centre.

Lancashire County Council is proposing to reduce its building stock and amalgamate services in new ‘neighbourhood centres’ in a bid to find savings of £200million over the next five years.

The centres will be based at several sites, including at Clitheroe and Longridge Libraries.

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But the move will see the closure of other sites, including Whalley, Chatburn and Read Libraries.

It would also mean the closure of children’s centres at Longridge (Willow’s Park based at the Civic Centre), Slaidburn and Spring Wood, which is based at Whalley Library.

Ribble Valley Borough Council has set up the working group to consider how the proposals will affect the borough, particularly the proposed closure of Longridge Children’s Centre and the facility in Whalley, where there has been a house-building boom.

The group’s chairman, Terry Hill, said: “Community hubs such as libraries and children’s centres are vital in rural areas like Ribble Valley, where access to services is poor.

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“The County Council’s proposals don’t take into account the part these sites play in rural life and we feel they are particularly mistaken in not recognising Whalley as a service centre, a designation they made in 2001 and endorsed by the Ribble Valley Core Strategy.

“We are gathering the facts and will be making a strong case to the County Council for the retention of some if not all of the facilities under threat in Ribble Valley.”

Opened in April 2008, Longridge Children’s Centre in Calder Avenue, was part of an £11m Lancashire County Council scheme to bring the total number of centres to 79.

Run under the Sure Start scheme, the centres were aimed at offering early learning, family support and advice and childminding networks.

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Speaking at the time, County Councillor Marcus Johnstone said: “It’s a chance to really improve lifetime opportunities for future generations and in Lancashire we are giving it our full support.”

The County Council consultation runs until Sunday, August 14.

Residents can have their say on these proposals and others as part of the cost-cutting exercise by visiting: