Give people more time to have their say on planned cuts to libraries and children's services, says MP

Protestors are pictured outside Whalley Library which is earmarked for closure as part of budget cuts by Lancashire County Council
Protestors are pictured outside Whalley Library which is earmarked for closure as part of budget cuts by Lancashire County Council

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has spoken out on the planned closure of libraries and children’s services, including Whalley library, saying that the consultation regarding the closures should be extended until September when families who may be on holiday can focus on it.

The consultation is currently scheduled to close on Sunday.

Nigel said: “Libraries are a vital part of communities, and closing them would mean that those who pay council tax, are seeing less and less service for their money.”

Speaking out about recent consultations, Mr Evans added: “Recent local consultations have seen decisions made before the consultation has ended, which is unfair and unjust to local communities.

“This consultation must be consumer led, with those that pay for the service getting a say in how it is run.”

Mr Evans has called for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid to oversee this consultation, to ensure that it is carried out in a fair and transparent manner.

Speaking about the impact of the closures, Mr Evans said: “While as a country we must live within our means, the services that are threatened with closure all across the Ribble Valley are services which people rely on, services that support communities, and something which we simply cannot afford to lose.”

Lancashire County Council recently announced a further £262m. in spending cuts, with various buildings threatened for closure across the Ribble Valley, including Chatburn Library, Longridge Young People’s Centre, Read Library, Pendleton Brook Day Centre, Slaidburn Young People’s Centre, Whalley Library and Spring Wood Children’s Centre and Willows Park Children Centre.

As reported in last week’s Clitheroe Advertiser a campaign by a group of local residents to save Whalley Library from closure has also been stepped up a gear.

Fifteen members of the “Save Whalley Library Campaign Group” recently met to express concerns that elderly residents were being excluded from the consultation process.

They claim Lancashire County Council’s preferred method of submissions made in response to the consultation process is online and a lot of the elderly residents that use Whalley Library in particular don’t have a computer.

Therefore, they are also calling for the submission deadline to be extended.

Neil Martin, the President of the Whalley Lions, who chaired the meeting at Whalley Old Grammar School, said: “We are increasingly concerned that the views and opinions of elderly residents are being ignored.

“We know from the enquiries we have received in response to the leaflet we have printed reminding people of the importance of making submissions as part of the consultation so that we get as many people to take part as possible, that a lot of older people either do not have a computer, iPad or web-enabled phone or have access to one.

“Nor have they found it easy to find the consultation online when they do. It’s not the most user friendly. A number have asked what they can do instead. We have printed off a version of the consultation form, which people can fill in and send in the post. This is available from Save Whalley Library Campaign members or you can pick up a copy at the library itself.”