Budget Cuts Close Local Libraries, Culture Secretary Gets Involved

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Photograph: Stewart Butterfield

Hundreds of libraries across the UK have now closed, resulting in numerous job losses throughout the country.

Almost 8,000 jobs in the UK have been cut in the past six years, leading to fears for the future progression of arts and culture sectors. 

In the same period, around 15,500 have been recruited with a total of 343 library closures, leading to questions of the detrimental effect this could have on education, especially the working class.

Lancashire itself has planned to shut 21 libraries in a bid to save money.

Conservative MPs, Ben Wallace and Paul Maynard, complained to Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, and said that the Lancashire County Council had not considered the impact on the public when planning the closures.

In response, David Borrow, Deputy Leader of Lancashire County Council said that he is happy for plans to be scrutinized and also that the Council took many factors into consideration and carried out a lot of work before the decision was made.

This could lead to a local enquiry where the government would order a re-examination of the decision by an independent party.

However, Chorley Borough Council has a plan to try and save Adlington library. Councillor Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council said that if required, Chorley would try to maintain services wherever they possibly could if the Council felt that closures to a service were detrimental to the community after government cuts were announced in 2015, to local authorities.

Bradley, however, stresses that Chorley Council will not provide money where the County Council hasn’t. Instead, Bradley desires the Council to work with the community in order to create a sustainable future for Adlington library, despite describing the community model as ‘not perfect.’

Lancashire County Council released figures about the number of community bids that were put in to save libraries that were under threat of closure. 49 bids were submitted in total and only 13 are at a stage where they can progress, 20 require more work and 16 have been ruled out completely. Therefore Bradley’s community model seems very challenging and requires a lot of work and planning.

Before a community group can work with a library the Council must make sure that the library is financially viable and that the group can manage and operate the facility.

Although Chorley Council only offers a temporary solution for saving Adlington library and requires aid from community groups, it is still a solution that other districts have not yet tried.

Concerns over access to books, the internet and information are extremely controversial topics when addressed to Lancashire County Council over the library closures.

Bradley laments a loss of opportunities, literature and therefore, as a result, self-improvement, for working class people.

Author Alan Moore is appalled by the closures and the negative effect it will have on literature today, expressing concerns over youth education.

In a speech at his local library he says, ‘Without Northampton’s libraries, I would not be the writer I am today… Education must not be a privilege for the well off.’