Lancashire

Six former libraries up for sale in Lancashire

Lancashire County Council
Image caption Lancashire County Council is trying to save £146m by 2020-21

Six former library buildings have been put up for sale in Lancashire as part of the county council's plans to save £146m following government budget cuts.

The libraries affected are in Barrowford, Bolton-le-Sands, Earby, Freckleton, Fulwood, and Whalley.

The buildings are the first to be sold in a move by Lancashire County Council (LCC) to raise money.

Plans to close more than 20 of its 73 libraries were approved in September following public consultation.

The sale is designed to reduce the number of buildings the council owns, with existing services to be provided at a network of "multi-functional neighbourhood centres".

Deputy council leader David Borrow said: "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.

'Huge savings'

He added: "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.

"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 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.

In September, LCC closed five museums - including Queen Street Mill Museum in Burnley and Helmshore Mills Museum - to save money.

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