As the dust settles on Lancashire County Council’s plans to sell off more than 100 libraries, children’s centres and other facilities across the county we look at five key things you need to know about the move.
1) WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The proposals will go the the County Council’s Cabinet meeting on September 8 for approval.
But first they will be debated by the council’s cross party Executive Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, September 6 at County Hall in Preston.
This is an opportunity for councillors to voice their own and local residents’ concerns and is chaired by Liberal Democrat County Coun Bill Winlow.
Both the meetings start at 2pm and are open to the public to attend and watch.
You can also watch a webcast of these meetings - the link can be accessed through the Property Strategy agenda item on the County Council’s online Calendar of Meetings.
2) WHEN WILL THE CLOSURES BEGIN?
Some of the centres could close within weeks.
The changes affect libraries, children’s services, children’s centres, young people’s centres, youth offending teams, older people’s daytime support services, adult disability day services and registrars.
The time span for the changes ranges from September 30, 2016 to March 2020.
It is proposed services will end at Fulwood, Bamber Bridge and Penwortham libraries and Garstang Young People’s Centre on September 30 this year.
By March next year the services at Kirkham Young People’s Centre,St Lawrence Children’s Centre, Preston, Penwortham Young People’s Centre and Wellfield Children’s Centre in South Ribble will cease.
It is also planned that Longridge Young People’s Centre, the Bamber Bridge Children’s Centre, Kingsfold and Longton Children’s Centres and eight services in Chorley -the Blossomfield’s Children’s Centre, Adult Disability Day Services, the Youth offending Team, Clayton Brook and Coppull Children’s Centre, Coppull and Eccleston Young People’s Centres and The Zone in Chorley - will be relocated to new Neighbourhood Centres between January 1 next year and March 2020.
3) WHAT CAN MY COUNCILLOR DO?
There will be a call-in period when councillors can object and ask for the decision to be reviewed by the council’s scrutiny committee. Five county councillors must sign a demand for a call-in to trigger the process. Any such demand must be received three working days after the initial decision - in this case that’s by 5pm on Tuesday September 13. Members of the scrutiny committee must meet within seven days and can ask the cabinet to reconsider its decision.
4) HOW MUCH MONEY WILL BE SAVED BY THE SELL OFF?
The council says millions of pounds will be saved by changing the way its frontline services are delivered. It’s not so much the income from sales of buildings which will be crucial - although it’s estimated some £8m -£11m could be raised, as the fact that service delivery has been changed and jobs cut and it’s the ongoing salaries and building maintenance costs saved which will be most significant.
The council estimates it will save £1.6m in reduced running costs for buildings, library closures will save £6.1m and reductions to its wellbeing, prevention and early help services will save £8.4m. But there’s a suggestion the Government, angered at the closure of Children’s Centres it helped to fund may ask for £20m back.
In addition it’s thought some £20m will be needed to make properties suitable for use as new Neighbourhood Centres.
5) WHAT CAN YOU DO?
You could volunteer to run a library service. The county council is proposing to offer help to establish community run libraries.
A help package will include £5,000 to cover set-up costs, shelving, an initial supply of books from the county council’s store and advice from a special community library development officer. Call 0300 1236701 for more information.
A website offering advice and information for people wanting to take over the running of local services or community centres could offer more inspiration. See www.mycommunityrights.org.uk
The council has also said it wants to explore further options for other groups and organisations to take over responsibility for some of its about to be axed buildings and services and wants more time to assess any business cases which have been submitted for such takeovers.
They will consider a report back on these in October. Any new expressions of interest must be submitted as soon as possible.