Library and children’s centre closures confirmed
THE death knell has sounded for Up Holland, Burscough and Parbold libraries, which will now be closed by the end of November after Lancashire County Council’s cabinet agreed the proposals on Thursday, September 8.
The changes are in response to forecasts that the county council will need to save a further £150m by 2020/21 as a result of ongoing government cuts to its budget and rising demand for services.
The authority council said that feedback received during a 12-week consultation held from May 18 to August 14 helped to shape a revised set of proposals.
In West Lancashire, the proposals have been revised to provide services for younger children at St John’s Children's Centre, Birch Green Road, Skelmersdale, instead of at Up Holland Children’s Centre. This is subject to further local consultation.
The Hesketh with Becconsall Children’s Centre and the Moorgate Children’s Centre in Ormskirk will also close, along with the children’s social care facility at Fairlie, Skelmersdale and Ormskirk’s Derby Street day centre for older people.
County council bosses want to set up Neighbourhood Centres, which they say will provide a base for a range of different services in one place.
Meanwhile more than 100 buildings will no longer be used for county council services and the number of places at which some services are available will reduce.
The cabinet also agreed to explore proposals by a number of community groups and other organisations to take on responsibility for running some of the affected buildings and services, with 43 business cases having been submitted so far.
County Councillor David Borrow, deputy leader of the Labour-run county council and portfolio holder for finance, said: “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.”
The cabinet has also agreed plans to explore alternative options for the future delivery of library services, with a focus on examining whether community-run libraries could add to the statutory service provided by the county council.
A package of help is proposed to help establish any community-run library, including £5,000 to cover set-up costs, shelving and an initial supply of books from the county’s store.