Tories seek inspiration from Yorkshire in bid to save libraries

Wyre Conservative councillors this week called on Lancashire County Council to save all of Wyre's libraries.

Tuesday, 19th April 2016, 5:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2016, 7:19 pm
Coun Alan Vincent, Wyre Council

But, knowing it is certain some will be axed before the end of the year, they have now sought advice from over the Pennines.

They say they are prepared to help create a community interest company in the district to keep libraries open.

The County Council pledged earlier this year to retain at least one library in each district, but has already voted to close 40 - as yet unnamed libraries - to save money.

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Wyre Tory Deputy Leader Coun Alan Vincent, together with Wyre and County Councillor Vivien Taylor, Coun Shaun Turner and Coun Howard Ballard travelled to York to meet Fiona Williams, Chief Executive of a Community Interest Company (CIC) which now runs York Library Service.

Coun Vincent said “York spun its library service into a Community Interest Company two years ago making an immediate 20% saving on cost with more to come. The CIC is owned by the staff and members of the public and is not run for profit or for shareholders but for the benefit of the public at large. Wyre would be happy to help facilitate the creation of a CIC and would work with it to enlarge the services delivered via our libraries for their benefit, our benefit and for the benefit of the public.”

He invited anyone interested in creating a CIC to contact his group saying: “This is a great model which we have urged Lancashire County Council to look at as a matter of extreme urgency. You have to think outside the box these days to preserve services which are vital to our communities.”

York Libraries CIC encourages Friends Groups to raise cash for individual libraries, has introduced cafes into three libraries and refreshment areas into the remainder.

Coun Vincent said “This shows that there are ways to reduce costs and increase income without decimating the service and if members of the public who wish to become involved in creating a CIC or in volunteering we would like to hear from them.”

The councillors now hope to meet Labour cabinet member Marcus Johhstone for talks and have invited him to view the York service.