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Cuts programme gets green light - but fight to save our libraries goes on

Lancashire County Council's cabinet has approved proposals to save £262 million

Hyndburn libraries

The fight to save our local services goes on as the county council has approved plans to devastate the county’s libraries.

At a meeting of the cabinet, members voted to approve cost cutting proposals, including axing the number of libraries from 74 to 34 to save £7 million, ending the funding for museums and reducing the Highways budget by £2.8 million.

It means Accrington, Oswaldtwistle, Rishton, Great Harwood and Clayton-le-Moors libraries are all at risk of closure.

Lancashire County Council leader Coun Jennifer Mein said: “The decisions we have taken are heartbreaking but reflect the unprecedented financial situation we face.

“I didn’t come into politics to cut services, but years of relentless central government cuts combined with a rising demand for our services mean we have to find huge savings.”

The plans will result in the loss of the equivalent of an estimated 367 full time jobs, in addition to the 1,100 staff who have already left the authority since January 2014 on voluntary redundancy.”

The council approved the proposals as part of a series of measures aimed at tackling a £262 million funding gap faced by April 2020.

Coun Mein added there will be harder decision to take in future.

She said: “We are using the bulk of our reserves just to balance the budget over the next two years. We will do all that we can to protect the vulnerable but these are very difficult times.”

Proposals approved at the cabinet meeting also included ending funding for all subsidised bus services to save £7.5 million per year and removing the subsidy for discretionary denominational transport.

The savings come on top of £152 million savings announced in the three-year budget agreed in February this year.

These additional savings mean that between 2012 and 2020 the council will have delivered savings of £685 million.

The Observer together with our sister paper the Rossendale Free Press, launched a petition earlier this week calling on the council to save Hyndburn’s much loved libraries, and it has already been signed by 725 people.

Send your views to our letters page at accringtonobserver@menmedia.co.uk.

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