Fight to save town’s library

Photo: David Hurst'Leyland Library
Photo: David Hurst'Leyland Library

A fight to save Leyland Library has begun.

The library could be facing the threat of closure under Lancashire County Council budget proposals.

Councillor Claire Hamilton, who represents Leyland central ward on South Ribble Council, said it was “imperative” it stayed open.

She has written to county councillors for Leyland - Matthew Tomlinson and Michael Green - highlighting the “importance of Leyland Library in our community”.

She said: “The local library is not just books and computers but it is a place where individuals can gather to explore, interact, and learn.

“The library is a great space for residents to link with our local community and provides valuable interaction for those who might face isolation without it.

“We must not underestimate the value of being able to access books for free and the wide range of subjects that local residents can gain access to.

“It is a fantastic resource that allows people to be able to educate themselves and it can help to tackle social issues such as adult illiteracy which is a significant barrier for some.

“The library is a space for community groups to gather and provides support for community involvement through the provision of information about the local area.

“The library also provides a study space for children who don’t have a home environment they can work in and free access to computers and the internet for everyone.

“These are just some of the groups and activities that are in Leyland library on a regular basis - computer courses, work club, toddle rhyme time, preschool story time, family history groups, trailblazers reading group for ages six to twelve and games afternoon.

“I have asked the county councillors who represent Leyland to explore all options to ensure that Leyland library continues to deliver a service to the local community.”

Leyland has a population of 39,395 residents living in the library catchment area. Leyland Library itself has 11,535 members.

In 2015, it increased the membership by, on average, 127 new members a month.

There are 15 computers in the library for residents to use and in 2015, there were, on average, 1,462 computer sessions a month.

Last year there were 75,478 footfall visits to Leyland Library - an average weekly footfall of 1,510.

County councillor Tomlinson said: “It’s almost inconceivable that we would be considering shutting Leyland Library and yet that’s a reflection of the scale of cuts we’ve had in central government grants.

“Clearly as a local councillor I’ve made my views known to the appropriate people in county hall and I’m happy to support Claire’s campaign.

“The library service may have to look differently than it does.

“The minimum we need is we still have a library somewhere in Leyland.”

County councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “These are very difficult decisions that have definitely been made with a heavy heart.

“They are unfortunately necessary because of unprecedented financial pressures caused by cuts to funding by central government and rising demand for our services, particularly those that care for the most vulnerable, such as adult social care.

“We are being forced to bring in a raft of measures to tackle a funding gap of £262m which we need to save by 2020.

“Despite our financial situation, we are committed to continuing to provide 34 fully staffed libraries.

“We are running two consultation periods so that we can seek the views of Lancashire residents as widely as possible.

“The first, lasting four weeks, started on 4 January 2016.

“This will be followed by a more in depth consultation, which will last 12 weeks, after we’ve collated the results of the initial consultation.

“This should enable us to understand better how the remaining Lancashire libraries should be designed.

“We’ve fully retained our mobile library service.”