COUNTY Council leader Jenny Mein has defended the timing, consultation and content of her announcement of a shortlist of 108 council buildings due to close, including 54 in East Lancashire.

Critics have accused her of ‘dirty tricks’ by revealing the proposals on the day local election results were being counted.


In total, 54 Lancashire County Council buildings in Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Chorley are set to shut their doors within the next 12 months.

Cllr Mein’s report is due to be approved by the county’s ruling Cabinet on Tuesday as it seeks to save £200 million by 2021.

There will now be another 12 week consultation period with a final decision in September on closing the properties.

Burnley Labour leader Mark Townsend is demanding a meeting over the ‘unjustified’ closures in the borough.

While Hyndburn Tory county councillor Peter Britcliffe has accused her of using the election results as a ‘a smokescreen’ and denounced the consultation as ‘a sham’.

Senior Ribble Valley Conservative Ken Hind accused Labour leadership of ‘dirty tricks’ and Pendle Liberal Democrat Tony Greaves called for another look at keeping volunteer-run libraries open.

Cllr Mein said: “We announced the list at the first opportunity after the local elections were over.

“This was a highly political decision that could not be revealed during the campaign.

“We do not want to close these premises but we are having to because of savage Tory government cuts.

“We are not cutting services but reducing the number of expensive buildings they.

“We have already consulted extensively and changed out proposals and we will accept representations and ideas to keep them open within out budget constraints.”.

Cllr Townsend said “These savage and outrageous cuts are the result of the slash and burn Tory cuts to local government.

“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the county council because we have not been consulted and I have seen no justification as to why these building have been selected for closure.”

Cllr Hind said: ‘’The dirty tricks department in the Labour party waited until Friday as this would have decimated their chances in the elections.

“We must fight tooth and nail against these closures which will hit our children and young people.”

Cllr Greaves said: “The county accepted some of our proposals in Pendle but they need to look again at keeping libraries open run by volunteers.”

Blackburn with Darwen borough, which has a separate all-purpose local authority, is unaffected.

Originally 238 buildings were considered.

Friday’s proposals would see nine buildings close in Burnley, in Hyndburn and Pendle, seven in Ribble Valley, eight in Rossendale and 12 in Chorley.

Blackburn with Darwen borough is unaffected.