Government Ministers demand answers over running of library services

GOVERNMENT Ministers are demanding answers over the running of library services in Lancashire, with Labour council bosses accused of letting down whole communities by local Conservatives.

Despite the council’s Conservative Group putting forward a fully funded proposal, which would have saved all the county’s libraries, the Labour administration has plans to close 29 across the region.

Now, Rob Wilson, the Minister for Libraries at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said they are set to look into how library services are run across Lancashire following a series of complaints about the Labour council's plans.

He has written to the council warning that Culture Secretary Karen Bradley is minded to order a local inquiry into whether the council is breaching its legal obligations around libraries - and setting out 19 points that the Government wants more information on from the council.

Mr Wilson said: "Lancashire County Council's planned closure of 29 public libraries is a very real concern to local people. We have carefully considered the concerns raised and are minded to order a local inquiry to determine whether these planned closures would affect the council's legal obligation to offer a comprehensive and efficient library service. 

"Library changes should be challenged in circumstances where significant doubts exist about the robustness of the future service.

"We regard libraries as very important to communities and are absolutely committed to helping them to prosper. That is why the Government recently invested £4 million to ensure libraries best meet the needs of local people."

Commenting on the Government's intervention, County Councillor Geoff Driver, leader of LCC's Conservative Group, said: “The Conservative group’s proposals would have helped to save Lancashire's libraries which are vital to our communities, yet Labour have shown themselves to be completely out of touch with the values of local people.

"On 4 May the people of Lancashire have a choice between the continued chaos of Labour, and a Conservative group with a plan to build a stronger, fairer Lancashire.”