Mark Menzies MP attacks Lancashire County Council over library closure plans

Mark Menzies MP has hit out at Labour-led Lancashire County Council’s plans to close libraries across Fylde.

On Friday, the county council announced proposals to close Lytham, Kirkham, Ansdell and Freckleton Libraries, despite the efforts of local campaigners, councillors and the Member of Parliament.

The news means the only facility left for the whole of Fylde is in St Annes and Mr Menzies said he was “appalled” at the extent of the cuts.

Mr Menzies, who has attended a number of recent events in support of libraries and has written repeatedly to county hall to appeal for a reasoned approach, said: “I have tried to do all I can to make it clear to the county council how important libraries are to the people of Fylde.

“I have also encouraged local people to speak up for their libraries and take part in the consultation process so the county council can make a decision knowing the strength of feeling in support of Fylde’s libraries.

“So to close four out of five libraries locally – and not leave us with a single facility in rural Fylde – is appalling and leads me to believe that this has been a fait accomplis from the start.

“There can be no doubt that the Labour Party has sought to protect areas where it receives more support. In Preston, it seems the only library to be facing closure is Fulwood Library, with eight out of nine facilities avoiding the cull.

“Until now, I have avoided accusations of political bias but the county council has continually attempted to politicise this issue, blaming closures wholly on Government cuts. Meanwhile, a great many other councils, including the Labour-led authority in Blackpool, have managed to avoid closing libraries so this comes down to Lancashire County Council’s priorities.

“I have already spoken to the Secretary of State for Local Government about this issue and he has agreed to go away and look at the methodology the council has used to make these decisions.

“I know that campaigners in Freckleton are putting together a petition, which I have offered to commend to Parliament, and I would encourage others to do the same.

“A second consultation is due to take place over the next few weeks and I would say to people that now is the time to fight to keep their libraries.”

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