Fury as village library goes on the market

Whalley Library on the market
Whalley Library on the market

Whalley Library is among six former library buildings that have been put up for sale in Lancashire as part of the county council’s plans to save £146m.

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

The buildings, including Whalley, are the first to be sold in an attempt by Lancashire County Council to raise money.

The move, which has prompted an angry response from campaigners who fought for months to keep the much-needed facility open, is intended to reduce the number of buildings the council owns and rents and form a network of multi-functional buildings known as neighbourhood centres, which will provide a base for a range of different services in one place.

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has slammed the decision.

He said: “I’m absolutely incandescent.

“It’s my belief that the consultation process should be carried out afresh because up until this point the voices of the public in Whalley have been completely ignored.

“It is a lesson the Labour Party will learn very powerfully in the county council elections next May.”

Coun. Ged Mirfin, who represents Billington, Brockhall and Old Langho and who is also one of the joint leaders of the Save Whalley Library Campaign, said: “The announcement has prompted an angry response from the residents of Whalley and Billington.

“It has struck everyone as not only incredibly crass, but is regarded by many people as thoroughly duplicitous behaviour by Lancashire County Council trying to bury the announcement at a time when they hoped no-one would be watching out for it.”

County hall officials say the former library buildings were initially offered to other public sector organisations to consider if they could use the buildings for their own services.

Coun. David Borrow, deputy leader of the county council, said: “These buildings are the first to go on sale following the county council’s decision to change how we deliver our services and develop new neighbourhood centres with services designed for local needs.

“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.

“We don’t want to be in this position, but we have to make difficult decisions.”

Commenting on the matter, Whalley councillor Terry Hill said: “This all smacks of media management of the worst kind by Labour spin doctors at County Hall who are well versed in the black arts of deceiving the public.

“The residents of Whalley deserve much better from Lancashire County Council.

“Not only is the sale listing for the land and property currently occupied by Whalley Library not yet listed on the Lancashire County Council website, but no-one knows the asking price.”

For more details, log onto “changes to our buildings” at www.lancashire.gov.uk.