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Future of Preston and South Ribble libraries and children’s centres decided

Posted on - 28th August, 2016 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Brookfield, Fulwood, News, Politics, Ribbleton
Bamber Bridge and Fulwood libraries are threatened with closure

Bamber Bridge and Fulwood libraries are threatened with closure

The future for libraries and community centres used by thousands of Prestonians looks to be decided.

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Brookfield and Ribbleton residents are celebrating as their campaign to keep Preston East Children’s Centre open has been successful.

The centre – which celebrated its 10th birthday last month – was earmarked for closure as Lancashire County Council makes swathes of cutbacks.

Ribbleton councillor Jonathan Saksena said he was ‘overjoyed’ at the news the children’s centre would remain open.

However a campaign to save Fulwood library has fallen on deaf ears as the county council says it will no longer deliver services at the site in Garstang Road.

Only one expression of interest in keeping the library open has been received, but no business case provided.

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A petition was set up to save Fulwood library

The campaign to save Fulwood library had one of the highest number of signatures in petitions to save libraries across the county. Nearly 4,000 people expressed their support for keeping the library open.

Council documents reveal how Fulwood library is one of the most used of libraries in the city.

It reads: “The selection of Fulwood Library was questioned as it is busier than many of those proposed to remain, has more activities including children’s and teenage adults reading groups/events, awareness talks, is a place where the community comes together.

“It was said that people will not go to Sharoe Green particularly if they are older or have a disability as the route involves a hill and is a 40 minute walk.

“It is used by a lot of people who don’t have anyone else to talk to and they feel part of the library’s community but may not find that elsewhere. The library is heavily used by job seekers, “the mentally ill”, people with dementia, older customers, and disabled customers. It also has Rhyme Time which is regularly attended by 40 people and computer groups.”

Saving Preston East has however meant a further cutback in Preston, with the St Luke’s Family Resource Centre in Ribbleton Lane due to shut instead.

The St Lawrence Children’s Centre is also due to be rolled into the Preston East centre – it is currently on the same site.

In South Ribble the cutbacks bite hard with a number of community buildings due to shut.

Bamber Bridge library and children’s centres will both close, along with Kingsfold children’s centre, Longton children’s centre, Lostock Hall library and children’s centre, Penwortham library, Penwortham young people’s centre and Wellfield children’s centre.

The libraries in Lostock Hall and Penwortham may be saved as business cases have been submitted for them to run by the community.

Why is the council doing this?

The county council needs to save £200m by 2020/21 as a result of central government cutbacks to its budget.

More than 7,7000 responses came into a consultation about the buildings it proposed to close – more than 100 across Lancashire.

What the council say

Deputy leader of the county council David Borrow said: “We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the consultation – their feedback has been invaluable in helping to shape the final proposals and the Cabinet will be giving the report careful consideration.

“Our aim is to find a solution that still gives everyone in Lancashire good access to good services, despite the pressures on the council’s budget. We have done a lot of work to assess where services should be located in future, taking account of things such as geographic spread, accessibility and the needs of different communities. Some of the changes to the proposals reflect what people have told us about the way they access these services.

“We’re also keen to continue exploring the potential for other groups and organisations to take on responsibility for some of the affected buildings and services, so we’re grateful for the interest that has been shown in that possibility over the last few months. The report acknowledges that more work will be needed to assess the business cases that have been put forward.”

What if a community wants to run the library?

The county council says it will offer £5,000 to help establish any community-run library. The money will cover shelving, initial supply of books and set up costs.

The full plans are due to be discussed by councillors on Tuesday 6 September at the county council’s executive scrutiny committee.

You can view the full consultation outcome documents on the county council website.

What do you think about the closures? Do you live near any of these libraries and centres? Let us know in the comments below

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