One library is saved but other buildings need bids

SAVED: Adlington residents campaigned to keep their library open
SAVED: Adlington residents campaigned to keep their library open
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TIME could be running out for more than 60 “white elephant” redundant county council buildings which could soon be put up for sale to the highest bidder.

But while a question mark now hangs over the future of properties such as Fulwood and Bamber Bridge libraries, there was joy in the community of Adlington with the news that agreement has been reached with Chorley Borough Council to keep Adlington Library open. This is now guaranteed to stay open thanks to the borough’s financial support and be staffed until March 2018.

Lancashire County Council's deputy leader, County Coun David Borrow

Lancashire County Council's deputy leader, County Coun David Borrow

The Chorley news was announced by the County Council’s Deputy Leader County Coun David Borrow, who said it was also hoped agreement could be reached on keeping library services in Coppull and Eccleston.

Meanwhile he said there was growing interest in the council’s recently announced scheme to help local groups create community libraries, which did not have to be located in former library premises.

His comments came as the council’s cabinet received a progress report on the disposal of some 100 buildings which the council is closing to save money.

Many of the properties are eligible for a community asset transfer to local community groups which must back their bid to take over buildings with a strong business case.

Coun David O'Toole

Coun David O'Toole

A report to cabinet revealed no community groups have yet submitted a formal case for taking over more than 60 of the buildings. The cabinet gave the go-ahead for negotiations to proceed on community asset transfers on some 37 properties.

Coun Borrow said there was still limited time to submit applications for community asset transfers and new expressions of interest were now coming in.

Earlier in the week Tory County Coun. David O’Toole, speaking at a scrutiny committee meeting, had asked what was going to happen to those buildings which had not attracted any bids for a community transfer.

Coun Borrow told him: “We can’t hold these properties indefinitely on the offchance we get an application. If people have been waiting for a decision of cabinet before putting in expressions (of interest) for community transfer please get it in quickly.”

Garstang County Coun Sandra Perkins asked would those whose applications had been rejected still have an opportunity to reapply?

Officer Mel Ormesher said some were not deemed suitable because they were from commercial organisations which would never qualify for a community transfer and some were from organisations which had not yet been established. For those that might meet the criteria it would be possible to put in a new application.