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Where the fight to save Preston and South Ribble libraries is up to

Posted on - 17th April, 2017 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Bamber Bridge, College, Fulwood, Lostock Hall, News, Penwortham, Politics
Fulwood library, built in 1939, could soon be closed
Fulwood library, built in 1939, closed in September last year

The future of libraries closed in Preston and South Ribble could still involve re-opening and re-stocking the shelves with books.

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Fulwood, Lostock Hall, Bamber Bridge and Penwortham libraries have been shut by Lancashire County Council as part of a cost-saving drive.

Now the Secretary of State for Culture. Minister and Sport Karen Bradley MP could step in and order a reversal.

In a letter to the county council leader councillor Jennifer Mein the Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson MP says they want additional information before deciding whether to order a full inquiry.

The government was petitioned by Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace, among others, to investigate the library closures under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 – a duty which Mr Wallace and others claim the county council has breached.

The county council rebuff the claim and say they will provide all the information needed to the county council.

Labour leader of the county council Mrs Mein said: “At this stage we will furnish him with all the information he has requested and still have confidence actually we’ve done the right thing. I’m sure they know there are elections in three weeks’ time.”

The Lancashire Conservatives group has made reversing the closure decision on libraries a key manifesto pledge in the upcoming county council elections.

Campaigners have welcomed the latest intervention from the government but they are still sceptical whether a full inquiry will be ordered.

Penwortham Library stamped its final book on Friday 30 September Pic: Google
Penwortham Library stamped its final book on Friday 30 September Pic: Google

The libraries affected in Preston and South Ribble have now gone on the market – with Fulwood understood to have already been sold. Penwortham has been signed over to the Town Council in the area who are planning to run the existing children’s centre and library as an arts centre and library.

Read more: Why Michael Sheen thinks a political answer could be in Preston

How can I have my say on libraries in Lancashire?

The government says anyone can write to them about the closures and their views.

Ministerial Support Team, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 100 Parliament Street, London, SW1A 2BQ or email enquiries@culture.gov.uk by 5pm on Friday 9 June. You must include Lancashire Library Services – Minded to Representations in the title.

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