Monday, 2 January 2017

Lancashire County Council puts six Library buildings up for sale

Bolton-le-Sands Library. Image: Google
Lancashire County Council is selling six former library buildings, including the building in Bolton-le-Sands.

Six former libraries are up for sale, or due to go on the market shortly - Barrowford, Bolton-le-Sands, Earby, Freckleton, Fulwood, and Whalley.

The initial asking price for the buildings has not been revealed at this stage. Plans to close more than 20 of the County Council's 73 libraries were approved in September following public consultation, to the dismay of library users and some county councillors.

These buildings are being sold as part of the council's property strategy as, the Council, says, it "works to ensure people still have good access to good services close to where they live, whilst facing the need to make massive savings. "

The strategy will reduce the number of buildings the council owns and rents. In their place, the Council plans to form a network of multi-functional buildings known as neighbourhood centres, which they claim will provide a base for a range of different services in one place.

There will be changes to where some services are delivered in the future, including libraries, children's services, children's centres, young people's centres, youth offending teams, older people's daytime support services, adult disability day services and the registration service.

These buildings were initially offered to other public sector organisations, to consider if they could use the buildings for their own services.

County Councillor David Borrow, deputy leader of the county council, said: "These buildings are the first to go on sale following the county council's decision to change how we deliver our services, and develop new neighbourhood centres with services designed for local needs.

"We’re faced with a very difficult budget position. In 2020/21 we will have a funding gap of £146m as a result of ongoing government cuts to our budget and rising demand for services.

"We looked into options for community groups to take on responsibility for these buildings, but unfortunately no viable plans came forward, so we're looking to sell these buildings and bring in additional revenue.

"We don't want to be in this position, but we have to make difficult decisions.

"People will still have good access to good services, whilst allowing the council to deliver some of the huge savings we need to make."

The closure of Lancashire's public libraries has been criticised by local MPs including Paul Maynard, the Conservative representative for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, who complained to the government.

The BBC reports the situation is being monitored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport which said that local authorities have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service.

Three libraries - at Crawshawbooth, Oswaldtwistle and Trawden - are to be handed over to community groups with some financial support from the council.

• Find out more about the County Council's plans for its services by following links to 'Changes to our buildings' at www.lancashire.gov.uk

No comments: