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Museum of Lancashire to be closed as Lancashire County Council approve £65m savings plan

Posted on - 29th November, 2015 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - News, Politics

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Preston’s Museum of Lancashire faces a bleak future as it is one of the casualties of cutbacks by Lancashire County Council.

County Hall has approved two year plan to save £65 million as it fights to plug a £262 million black hole by 2020.

Up to 367 full-time jobs are to go at the county council and county councillors have described the decisions taken as “heartbreaking”.

The Museum of Lancashire in London Road is one of five museums in the county to see its funding ended.

Subsidised bus services in rural parts of Preston as well as late night services may also come under pressure with all subsidised bus services having their funding withdrawn.

More than £7m is expected to be saved with cutbacks to libraries, reducing the number from 74 to 34 across the county. It is not known at this stage whether any libraries in Preston will be closed.

Preston is also more likely to see potholes in its roads with £2.8 million being slashed from the highways budget.

County Hall is currently drawing up its proposals for how to save hundreds of millions a year

County Hall is currently drawing up its proposals for how to save hundreds of millions a year Pic: thepracticalsurveyor

County councillor Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “The decisions we have taken today 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.

“Even with these measures we still face a funding gap of nearly £200m by 2020 so unless central government has a change of heart there will be harder decisions to take in future. 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.”

Deputy leader councillor David Borrow, cabinet member with responsibility for finance and property issues, said: “It is impossible to overstate the seriousness of our financial situation. The plans approved today are striking but they represent less than a quarter of the savings we have to find by 2020. We have to spend our reserves, built up over years to cover unexpected events, just to balance the budget. And we know that we will still face a shortfall of £56m in 2018/19.

“We will have to look at the detail of the Chancellor’s announcement yesterday that we can raise Council Tax by 2% to go towards adult social care. This may go some way to alleviate pressures in that area but won’t solve what has been chronic underfunding for these vital services.”

A number of county council buildings are also likely to be sold off, as the budget proposals include a “long-term reduction in the county council’s corporate property portfolio.”

What do you think of the cutbacks? Did you ever visit the Museum of Lancashire? Let us know in the comments below

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