Libraries and kids centres to close

Darren Clifford from Morecambe. Pensions story. The Scotsman.
Darren Clifford from Morecambe. Pensions story. The Scotsman.
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Three Morecambe children’s centres are set to close as part of a major shake-up of county council services.

Bolton-le-Sands, Carnforth and Silverdale libraries, and Lancaster and Morecambe’s Registration Offices, are also on a list of properties likely to be sold off under new proposals.

Balmoral Children’s Centre, Poulton Children’s Centre and Heysham Children and Young People’s Centres all face closure, alongside Barton Road, Firbank and Ryelands in Lancaster.

Labour county councillor Darren Clifford said that it was the buildings, not the services, that Lancashire County Council was aiming to dispose of, and stressed that the focus would be on pulling services together under one roof to make savings.

Coun Clifford said the continued cuts to Lancashire’s budget was like “Thatcherism on steroids”.

Lancashire County Council needs to save £200m by 2020/21.

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris said that the county council has £325m in reserves and could afford to keep the buildings open.

He said: “The county council have more than enough money in reserves to adequately run their services and have some serious questions to answer about why they are proposing yet more unnecessary cuts.”

County Coun Janice Hanson said the council had to keep money in reserves for potential future cuts, and said Mr Morris was in denial about the issues.

Balmoral Children’s Centre is attached to Sandylands Primary School’s nursery class in Balmoral Road and offers a wide range of services for families and parents from pre-birth up to the age of five.

Alison Hickson, headteacher at Sandylands, said: “It’s going to be a great loss for parents, particularly for young families.

“It’s really well used. Balmoral is an outstanding children’s centre, but what we’ve now got to do is look at different ways of providing these services.”

County Coun Clifford, who represents Morecambe South, said: “These cuts are morally wrong.

“It’s like Thatcherism on steroids.

“We now want to speak to people in the community about what they think we can achieve together.

“There are already quite a few community groups and individuals who have contacted us about taking on those buildings.”

He added: “I think the whole country needs to wake up to the fact that a lot of these cuts have nothing to do with the economy, Europe or the deficit, but a political decision at the heart of the government that says we don’t think (local councils) should exist at all.”

A 12-week consultation period is due to begin on May 18 for 12 weeks, before a decision is taken later this year.