Pendle peer challenges Government over library cuts

Pendle Liberal Lord Greaves has challenged the Government over the proposed closure of 40 libraries in Lancashire '“ including possibly up to five in Pendle.

Lord Greaves outside the House of Lords.
Lord Greaves outside the House of Lords.

In the House of Lords he asked what assessment it had made of the impact of the Local Government Finance Settlement on the provision of libraries.

Minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Baroness Neville-Rolfe replied: “The Government fully recognise the importance and significance of public libraries.

“It is a service delivered according to local priorities, but local authorities have a duty to provide a comprehensive service.”

Lord Greaves asked whether she was aware that, in Lancashire “the budget recommended to the county council involves a reduction in the number of libraries across that large county from 74 to 34-in other words, 40 libraries are to be closed? Is this acceptable, as far as the Government are concerned?”.

She said: “Lancashire CC has completed a consultation seeking residents’ views on service design, need and use. Libraries are changing all across the UK. We understand a further period of more detailed consultation will be undertaken between May and July. I encourage residents to make the council aware of their specific library needs and ideas for the future.”

Lord Greaves, after the exchanges, said: “She went on to say libraries should be looking to use more volunteers, which is what people are hoping to do in Pendle to keep some of them open.

“But she completely failed to accept that it’s the massive cuts in government funding which is causing the problem in the first place.”

He added that what is happening here is a disaster and both the Government and Labour-run LCC “just seem to be washing their hands of responsibility”.