by Henry James (May 2016)

THREE West Lancashire libraries and three children’s centres are threatened with closure as part of Lancashire County Council proposals to save £200m by 2020/21.

A day care centre for older people and a children’s social care facility in the borough are also under threat following the announcement which, it is feared, could result in the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Libraries earmarked for closure are Up Holland library at Hall Green, along with Burscough and Parbold libraries.

St John’s Children’s Centre in Skelmersdale is also facing the axe as are Hesketh with Becconsall Children’s Centre and Moorgate Children’s Centre, Ormskirk.

The Children’s Social Care facility at Fairlie, Skelmersdale and Ormskirk’s Derby Street Day Centre for older people could also be closed under the proposals.

The county council plan to reduce the number of fixed locations where people can access libraries from 73 to 44. It is proposed that 37 of these will offer a fully-staffed service while seven will operate as unstaffed ‘satellite’ libraries where people can use self-service counters to collect books which they have reserved and return books.

This will be supported by the county council's mobile library service, home library service and virtual library service, which allows people to access e-books, e-audiobooks and online reference service.

The authority are proposing to bring services “together to form a network of multi-functional buildings known as Neighbourhood Centres, which would provide a base for a range of different services in one place.”

Councillors are being asked to give the go-ahead for a 12-week consultation period, starting on Wednesday, May 18, inviting comments and suggestions about the proposals, before taking a final decision later this year.

Leader of Lancashire County Council, County Councillor Jenny Mein, said: “The severity of the county council's financial position cannot be overstated and the ongoing cuts in central government funding combined with rising demand for our services mean the only way we can maintain the services that people rely on is to deliver them in a different way. I’m acutely aware that people have a very strong connection to their local services, particularly places like libraries which are often seen as a valuable part of the community.

“These proposals are very difficult ones for councillors to have to consider, but our aim is to come up with a solution that still gives everyone in Lancashire access to good services, even though some will have to be further away than they are now.

“The cabinet report reflects a lot of hard work to assess where services should be located, taking account of things such as geographic spread, the needs of different communities, and access issues such as public transport and car parking.

“Following the cabinet meeting we intend to put these plans out to consultation and we’ll be very keen for people to express their views and help shape the final proposals.”

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