Fulwood Library fight ‘not over’ as Preston MP to call-in closure decision with government

Posted on - 11th September, 2016 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Fulwood, Politics, Preston News
Fulwood library, built in 1939, could soon be closed

Fulwood library, built in 1939, could soon be closed

Proposals to shut more than 100 community buildings in Lancashire including libraries and children’s centres is due to be investigated by the government.

Campaigners fighting to save Fulwood Library from closure say a Preston MP has triggered a ‘call-in’ process to have Lancashire County Council’s plans examined.

The library is one of many due to close on Friday 30 September after the county council’s cabinet approved the closure plans.

Mary Duckett, one of the team leading the fight to save Fulwood’s library in Garstang Road, said: “We wanted to speak at the council meeting but were told we couldn’t, so we asked our county councillors to ask a question on our behalf.

“We asked if there was money set aside to maintain the empty building and protect it from crime and vandalism. They responded although there was a duty of care at this stage it was not known if any money was set aside.

“Their response to the people of Fulwood about the closure was to say ‘there’s an extremely good bus service into Preston to the Harris library’.

“The good news is that Ben Wallace MP has lodged the request for a call-in to challenge the council’s decision with Karen Bradley the secretary of state for culture.

“This fight is not over but we need more Fulwood residents backing us in any way they can.”

Council’s response

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet met on Thursday to look at the final proposals, which they say will save millions of pounds.

A 12-week consultation period saw the initial plans amended so Preston does not lose Preston East Children’s Centre in Brookfield.

Deputy leader of the county council David Borrow said: “Most importantly, the plans agreed by cabinet mean people will still have good access to good services whilst allowing the council to deliver some of the huge savings we need to make.

“We don’t want to be in a position where we have to make changes to services which we know people value a great deal, and these proposals have been very difficult for councillors to consider.

“However the county council is in a very severe financial position due to the ongoing cuts in central government funding combined with rising demand for our services, and the only way we can maintain the services that people rely on is to deliver them in a different way. Even assuming council tax increases of 3.99% over the next four years, we will still need to find savings of around £150m.

“A lot of work has taken place to consider where services should be located so that people can access them, with a particular emphasis on ensuring the council continues to fulfil its duty to support those communities where there is the greatest need.

“The nearly 8,000 responses we received to the consultation have helped to shape these plans, and a number of changes have been made as a result of the feedback we received about how people access services.

“We will now work with those groups and organisations that have registered their interest in taking on responsibility for some of the buildings which are no longer needed by the council, and I hope this will result in some of those venues continuing to perform a valuable role in serving our communities. As the report acknowledges, the first step will be to assess the business cases that have been put forward, and cabinet will look at where there are viable cases in October.

“We now also have a lot of work to do in order to deliver the savings agreed as part of these plans, and we’ll do our best to keep people informed about the changes as they’re introduced.”

Any communities wanting to take on the running of their local library are being offered £5,000 by the county council to cover set-up costs.

What do you think about the decision? Do you support a call-in? Let us know your views in the comments below

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