Longridge Library could be under threat of closure and the community is being called upon to rally round to save it.
Longridge Town Council wants as many people as possible to lobby Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, Marcus Johnstone with letters and emails and through social media if they want the library to be saved.
Also, LCC launched its consultation on all Lancashire’s libraries on Monday, and residents are being asked to fill in the survey on the county’s website found under “current consultations” by January 31.
Coun David Smith outlined the county’s stance at a recent meeting of the town council, saying he fears either Longridge or Mellor library could face the axe under LCC proposals to split Lancashire into 34 ‘service planning areas’ - with Longridge and Mellor being in the same area.
But Coun Smith added there had been “considerable cross party opposition” to the ‘service planning areas’ and LCC’s Cabinet was looking into the matter.
Coun Jim Rogerson said the town council needed to get hold of Longridge Library’s usage figures and said: “We are aghast that we might lose it.”
Longridge Library is not just a library but the hub of the communityResident
Coun Paul Bryne said the library was “very well used,” adding the computers which people had to book to use were well used, particularly by older people. He also highlighted the computer upgrade that was due to take place at the library, saying the county was spending “big money” on it - see separate story.
Coun Smith described Longridge Library as “very much a community hub” and not a library “in the old sense of the word” and pledged to get hold of the information regarding the numbers of people using the library and its various facilities, as well as all the activities which go on there.
Coun Rosemary Beacham said: “I think we should fight to keep the library open.”
She said Mellor had a population of around 3,000 whereas for Longridge it was around 8,000 and said the library was “very well patronised by a cross section of the community.”
“It is used by so many different people,” added Coun David Moon, saying useage information would be “ammunition” in the battle to save the library.
Resident Jane Watton believes not enough people know about the possible threat to Longridge Library and together with her three-year-old son Freddie, has been visiting businesses in the town and distributing petition forms. She has also set up a Facebook page “Save Longridge
Library” to make people aware of LCC’s consultation.
Jane said: “Longridge library not only provides an enormous variety of books to borrow, it provides additional services including the use of computers with free Wi-Fi, a public toilet, baby changing facilities, drinks vending machine ad daily newspapers.
“The library also serves two high schools. Hillside Specialist school, 11 primary schools. most with pre-school provision. It also supports a home lending service and Chipping Rural Library service.
“Additionally the library offers a wide range of activities for pre-school children as well as coffee mornings and group learning activities for adults.”
She added: “Longridge Library is not just a library but the hub of the community....long may the wonderful service provided by it continue.”
Longridge mayor, Coun Sarah Rainford is also urging residents to take part in the consultation, as it records the postcode of each survey submission, and also to lobby county councillors and Coun Johnstone, petitioning against the possible closure of Longridge Library. She said: “If the community does not shout loud and clear this service could be lost to financial cuts.”
Marcus Johnstone can be contacted via email on email@example.com or by letter addressed to him at County Hall, Preston, PR1.8XJ.