New battles launched in bid to protect libraries

Hundreds of people have joined new campaigns calling for their libraries to be kept open amid county council budget cuts.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 6th February 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2016, 9:26 pm

A read-in event held last weekend at Coppull Library, near Chorley, was attended by 400 people including well-known comedian Dave Spikey.

Following its success, campaigns have been launched to protect three other libraries in Chorley.

People are calling for Eccleston, Euxton and Adlington libraries to be kept open as Lancashire County Council plans to shut 40 of its 74 libraries, saving £7m.

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The libraries set to close have not yet been identified.

Campaigners are holding an event at Eccleston Library from 10am to noon today, where children can share their favourite stories and dress as book characters.

Caroline Parr, who is involved in the Eccleston campaign, said: “For us it’s really important. It’s such a valuable resource for the community and we can’t risk losing it.”A Facebook group has been set up for people to show their support for the library.

Stuart Clewlow created Facebook groups for Adlington and Euxton libraries, with 250 people joining each page in just 12 hours.

Petitions have also been launched for all three libraries calling for them to stay open.

Stuart believes the libraries are all community centres and used by many different groups.

He said: “I think the general consensus is that rather than libraries adopting an ‘us or them’ mentality, everyone is agreeing that we need to try to secure all the Chorley libraries.”

Campaigns are also underway to save libraries in locations including, Penwortham, Garstang,Longridge and Knott End.

County councillors will meet on Thursday to discuss the budget proposals.

County Coun Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “The last thing I or anyone else at county want to do is close libraries but we are between a rock and a hard place.”

He encouraged people to write to Conservative MPs in Lancashire to raise their concerns about the proposed library closures and budget cuts.

“Their quarrel isn’t with the county council, it’s with the Conservative MPs who are approving these massive cuts in spending,” he said.

• Nearly 7,000 people have filled in a council questionnaire on the library service, either on line or by filling in forms available at local libraries.

County Councillors considered feedback on this consultation on the service’s design, need and use at last Thursday’s cabinet meeting.

They were told 13 e-petitions had been created on the council’s website by concerned campaigners, with some still open for signatures. Save Garstang Library had the largest response with 324 signatures, followed by Save Longridge Library at 257 and Don’t Close Heysham Library with 188. The petition for Save Coppull Library closes on February 24 and so far has 186 signatures. Meanwhile in Knott End 3,265 signatures had been added to a petition to save the ferry, buses, library and youth services locally. In Penwortham 650 people signed a paper petition to keep Kingsfold Library open.

Some 95% of those consulted used the library and 97% were very or fairly satisfied with the service.

Council leader County Coun Jennifer Mein said: “I don’t think there were many surprises in the consultation response - we do love our libraries.”

The council plans to close 40 libraries as part of £65m cut backs on council spending over the next two years.