MP slams decision to sell village library

Coun Ged Mirfin, council leader Coun Stuart Hirst and deputy leader Coun Terry Hill. (s)
Coun Ged Mirfin, council leader Coun Stuart Hirst and deputy leader Coun Terry Hill. (s)

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has slammed Lancashire County Council’s decision to once more put Whalley Library up for sale.

It was recently announced that the much-loved community hub, which acts both as a village library and children’s centre, has been placed on the market despite valiant efforts from community groups and local councillors to save it.

The £400,000 library, which saw footfall of 3,000 per month, was initially listed for sale on New Year’s Eve, but was soon taken off the market as councillors Terry Hill and Ged Mirfin, of the Save Whalley Library campaign, secured a meeting with Rob Wilson MP in his capacity as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Civil Society.

Lancashire County Council have previously blamed a budget deficit for the closure of the library, however, the most recent announcement of the sale comes just three weeks after the council voted through a 3.99% increase in council tax.

Mr Evans believes the Conservative victory in the Copeland by-election, a seat that had previously been held by Labour for more than 90 years, reflects the public’s current distrust of the Labour Party.

Speaking from his constituency office in Clitheroe over the weekend, Mr Evans said: “Following Copeland, the Labour-led County Council have been put on notice.

“People will look at the increase in council tax and the decrease in public services throughout Lancashire and begin to question where their money is going. I am confident that the public will make their feelings known at the ballot box in May and vote Conservative.”

He has been an outspoken critic of the council and has criticised LCC of ignoring the voices of Whalley residents, requesting a further consultation period.

Mr Evans added: “If the Conservatives win the May election, we will fight to strengthen public services throughout Lancashire and give the public real value for money. It is paramount that such a steep increase in council tax creates a noticeable difference to the quality of life for Lancashire’s residents.”

Coun. Terry Hill, deputy leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, said: “It is quite disgraceful that the Labour LCC have initiated the sale process for Whalley Library now when the county council election takes place on May 4th with the Conservatives having pledged to reopen it if they regain control.

“This is a spiteful act showing yet again that the Labour Party cares nothing for rural Ribble Valley.”