Final chapter as library faces the axe

Protesters at Whalley library.
Protesters at Whalley library.

Plans to close Whalley Library as part of cost-cutting measures have been slammed by campaigners.

Whalley Library and Spring Wood Children’s Centre is among 20 libraries and children’s centres across East Lancashire facing the county council axe.

The bombshell recommendation was made by Lancashire County Council officials shortly before 8 pm on the Friday before the Bank Holiday Weekend.

Other libraries set to close include Rosegrove, Briercliffe, Barrowford, Trawden, Oswaldtwistle, Rishton and Read.

Disappointed campaigners, who submitted petitions and battled for months to keep the crucial services open, are refusing to back down and have vowed to continue fighting. Mr Neil Martin, a spokesman for the Save Whalley Library campaign, said: “This is very disappointing news, and a great blow to the community, along with the other cuts the residents of the Ribble Valley have experienced such as bus services.

“I am sure we will fight to keep the services that are vital to an area that has experienced high levels of deprivation and disruption following the Boxing Day floods.

“Many families and individuals have been affected financially, mentally and with general health following the floods.

“The library was a vital service that served the community with IT services, children services and a hub for residents to meet.

“I feel that the process of the consultation has not been fairly carried out and I feel our voices over saving our community asset has been left unheard officially.”

Ribble Valley Borough Council deputy leader and Whalley councillor Terry Hill said: “I am appalled, but not surprised that Lancashire County Council has completely ignored the well-considered and detailed case we made for the retention of Whalley Library and Spring Wood Children’s Centre.

“The county council itself designated Whalley as a key service centre, which was subsequently enshrined in Ribble Valley’s Core Strategy, a fact the county council has also completely ignored.

“This consultation has been a sham and a farce, and the county council clearly had its mind made up from the outset.”

Coun. Ged Mirfin, who represents Billington and Old Langho, said: “The fact that the detailed submissions made as part of the consultation exercise have been so evidently ignored shows both a lack of respect and contempt for the people of the Valley.”