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Cuts to libraries and public buildings come under LCC scrutiny

Bosses have admitted they have not carried out valuations of under threat buildings

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Deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, David Borrow. Pic: LCC

County hall chiefs have revealed that no valuation process has yet begun on public buildings and libraries due to close as a result of budget cuts.

Deputy county council leader Coun David Borrow confirmed that no steps to assess the value of buildings deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ had yet been taken by officers.

Lancashire County Council (LCC) services are set to cease in nine centres in Hyndburn, including the closure of library services - as revealed in last week’s Observer.

LCC’s executive scrutiny committee met this week to discuss the proposals.

Responding to a question about potential revenue from buildings sales, Coun Borrow said: “It would have been completely inappropriate for council officers to start valuing buildings before cabinet members have made a decision about their disposal or not.

“Otherwise that would be warping the decision-making process.”

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Coun Borrow said buildings disposed of would be secured following closure, and admitted there would be a “financial implication” of transferring council buildings to community management.

He said: “As with any other county council-owned building which becomes surplus to requirements the county council has a duty to see that it is kept safe and sound and to look after it.

“We are still seeking to give support on the ground to community organisations where they come forward with proposals for community use. “Clearly there is a financial implication for doing that rather than selling it.”

Accrington South county councillor Bernard Dawson told the meeting: “What is important for us in Hyndburn is that this county council support the community groups that are trying to do something with the buildings and embrace the concept of shared services which we’ve done in Hyndburn.

“We need to keep the politics out of it and support the community groups and I think something that could come out of this.”

Timetable

LCC service delivery will cease from the Accrington Youth Offending Team, Clayton-le-Moors Library and Oswaldtwistle Library on September 30.

LCC says the full library service at Rishton Library will cease between October 1 and November 30 – but they say there may be a period of transition as satellite libraries are delivered.

Services will no longer be delivered from March 31, 2017 in; Clayton-le-Moors Young People’s Centre, Huncoat Children’s Centre, Oswaldtwistle Young People’s Centre and Sure Start Hyndburn - Accrington South Children’s Centre (The Beeches). LCC say they will “plan the response where there are other organisations occupying”.

LCC service delivery will be relocated to centralised ‘neighbourhood centres’ at Great Harwood Young People’s Centre

between January 1, 2017 and March 31, 2020. Between the same dates, work to create neighbourhood centres in Hyndburn to deliver services will commence at Accrington Library and Registration Office, Copper House Children’s Centre, Great Harwood Library and Hyndburn Adult Disability Day Services (Enfield).

A package of help and £5,000 has been offered for groups to help establish any community-run library.