A Preston MP has called on Lancashire County Council to slow down its sale of library buildings in the city and across the county.Advertisement
Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace lodged a formal complaint with the government about the closure of 21 libraries – saying they the county council had breached its duty as a local authority.
In early October the Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed it was treating Mr Wallace’s comments as a formal complaint and would be investigating the decision made by the county council.
A number of libraries in Preston and South Ribble have now closed, including Fulwood, Penwortham and Bamber Bridge. Lostock Hall is also going to lose its library.
Now Mr Wallace is calling on the chief executive of the county council Jo Turton to ‘put on hold the sale of the library sites (particularly those in Fulwood and Thornton) until after the government’s investigation has been concluded.’ – he writes in a letter.
The county council is now providing information to the government and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley MP will decide whether a local inquiry is needed into whether the county council has breached its duties in the Public Library and Museums Act 1964.
Deputy leader of Lancashire County Council David Borrow said: “We have received a letter from the Minister for Civil Society acknowledging that they have received complaints about the changes we’re making to Lancashire’s library service, and that these will be formally considered by the Secretary of State.
“We have carried out a great deal of detailed work to ensure our proposals for libraries fulfil the council’s statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service, and I’m happy for them to be scrutinised by the Secretary of State.
“The changes we are making will contribute towards the huge savings the council needs to make, while ensuring that people still have good access to library services through an extensive network across the county. A modern library service is about far more than providing books in buildings, and we are planning to invest in and extend the reach of our mobile libraries, and meet the increasing demand to access digital resources, to ensure the council continues to meet its statutory duties. I hope that our offer to help establish community-run libraries will add to what will already be a comprehensive network.”
Read more: Future of Preston and South Ribble community buildings decided
More than 30 business cases are currently being processed for buildings across the county – with community groups bidding to take on the running of them.
What do you think of what’s happening with the libraries and community buildings in Preston and South Ribble? Let us know your views in the comments below