Lancashire

Bids invited to run Lancashire's museums and libraries

Lancashire County Council
Image caption LCC said it was "in talks" with groups interested in running museums

Community groups and volunteers are being invited to run services in Lancashire the county council says it can no longer afford.

The authority plans to close 40 libraries and withdraw funding for five museums as part of savings worth £65m over the next two years.

There are a "number of opportunities" to take over council buildings or services, said a council spokesman.

Talks have begun with groups on the running of its museums, he added.

Funding is being cut for Queen Street Mill, Helmshore Mills Textile Museum, Museum of Lancashire, Judges' Lodgings and Fleetwood Museum.

Councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services at LCC, said talks with volunteers were at an early stage.

"We are working very hard behind the scenes and talking to a number of organisations who may be able to continue to run our historic museums, although no decisions have yet been reached."

The council said it had not identified which libraries could close but that it was keen to talk to groups interested in keeping them open.

'A loved museum'

Other services in Lancashire have already passed into the hands of volunteers.

Carl Bell and two friends stepped in when Rossendale Borough Council said, in 2013, it could no longer fund Rossendale Museum & Art Gallery - now known as The Whitaker.

He encouraged other groups to follow their lead.

"We must support these establishments or we will rue the day when they have completely gone because they won't come back," he said.

"It was a loved museum but it was a bit tired and old and dusty... we felt a lot more could be done and we set about that in the last three years with reasonable success."

Other community groups which have taken over council facilities include Haslingden All People's Pool Initiative (HAPPI) who are aiming to reopen Haslingden Baths and Ski Rossendale Social Enterprise.

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