Hands off our libraries – that is the message from the Observer today after council bosses revealed all of five across Hyndburn are at risk as part of major spending cuts.
The shocking impact of Lancashire County Council’s funding crisis was laid bare this week after it was revealed that it is to shut half its libraries across the county.
That has left our libraries in Accrington, Oswaldtwistle, Rishton, Great Harwood and Clayton-le-Moors all threatened with closure – with council bosses saying they would keep JUST ONE open in Hyndburn to meet its statutory obligations.
Other proposals to save £65m over the next two years include cutting 500 jobs, slashing funding for subsidised for bus services and reducing the highways budget by nearly £3m.
We at the Observer believe our libraries play a vital service in the cultural life of our communities – from their use by community groups to their role in giving youngsters access to reading material.
We understand that LCC are facing huge budget problems but they must find a better way than this.
Savage cuts threaten to shut libraries
Savage budget cuts could see the closure of libraries across Accrington it has been warned.
Lancashire County Council (LCC) has warned it may have to close half of it’s libraries and that none are safe from the axe.
There are five libraries across Hyndburn that could be affected, Accrington, Oswaldtwistle, Rishton, Great Harwood and Clayton-le-Moors.
In papers due to go before the cabinet, LCC said one library in each of its 12 district council areas would meet its statutory obligations.
Other proposals to save £65 million over the next two years include cutting 500 jobs, slashing funding for subsidised for bus services and reducing the highways budget by nearly £3 million.
It follows the announcement in August that the council will need to save an additional £262 million by April 2020 to tackle a funding gap caused by reduced government funding and a rising demand for services.
Albert Wilkinson, chairman of the Accrington Local History Society, said he couldn’t imagine Accrington without it’s library.
He said: “If Accrington was to lose it’s library, it would be an absolute disaster.
“There’s also a people issue, the staff have a wealth of knowledge, and Accrington has one of the best local history sections in the county. It’s important we don’t lose our heritage.”
Leader of Hyndburn Council Miles Parkinson said: “Nothing is decided yet, many people will be concerned.
“Local government will change beyond all recognition, but this is what the Tory government was elected to do.”
Councillor Jennifer Mein, the Labour leader of Lancashire County Council said that these were the most challenging time for local government in living memory.
She said: “We face the combination of relentless central government cuts and rising demand for our services, particularly those serving vulnerable people. The reality of our financial situation is such that we will have to use the bulk of our reserves just to balance the budget over the next two years, and by 2017/2018, we will only just have enough money to pay for our statutory services.”
A decision on the proposals is expected to be taken early next year.