Axe for community libraries

Several community libraries across Burnley are set to close in the latest round of cost-cutting measures by Lancashire County Council.

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Briercliffe, Rosegrove and Read libraries will all be shut as part of as part of the latest phase of a £262m. budget reduction initiative despite huge opposition from residents.

There was, however, a stay of execution for Brierfield Library.

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Feedback from 7,700 responses was taken into account in forming the proposals to bring services together to form what the county council call as network of multi-functional buildings known as “Neighbourhood Centres”, which would provide a base for a range of different services in one place.

The changes are in response to Lancashire County Council’s need to save £200m by 2020/21 as a result of ongoing government cuts to its budget and rising demand for services.

County Coun. David Borrow, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council and portfolio holder for finance, said: “Our aim is to find a solution that still gives everyone in Lancashire good access to services, despite pressures on the council’s budget. We have done a lot of work to assess where services should be located in, taking account of things such as geographic spread, accessibility and the needs of different communities. Some of the changes reflect what people have told us about the way they access services.”

“We’re also keen to continue exploring the potential for other groups and organisations to take on responsibility for some of the affected buildings and services, so we’re grateful for the interest that has been shown in that possibility over the last few months. The report acknowledges that more work will be needed to assess the business cases that have been put forward.”

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The report also asks councillors to agree 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, an initial supply of books from the county’s store, and advice from a dedicated community library development officer.