A DISABLED man yesterday chained himself to railings to whip up support for his campaign to save youth and library services.

Dressed in a Clarets first-team shirt, Brendan Morris pledged to stay at his protest spot in Burnley Road, Padiham, for at least two days asking people to sign a petition against Lancashire County Council cuts.


The 33-year-old unemployed sales and support worker said he remained unconvinced by assurances Padiham library and youth services would stay open and avoid being slashed to the bone by the savings programme.

The Milton Street resident pledged to take his protest to County Hall in Preston when he unchains himself from the front of Padiham Young People’s Centre later this week.

County culture boss Marcus Johnstone condemned the ‘ridiculous stunt’, saying there were no plans to close either service in the town.

The young people’s centre building however is on a list of buildings set to be closed and sold by the council.

He said: “We will be moving the young people’s centre into Padiham Town Hall over the road with the library there to create a new neighbourhood centre which will provide better services for everyone in the town.”

He flatly denied Mr Morris’s claim staff had been given 90-day ‘protective notice’ of dismissal.

Gawthorpe Labour borough councillor Andy Tatchell said he understood the protest and would be carefully monitoring the impact of the county’s cutbacks programme to ensure Padiham did not suffer unfairly.

Earlier this month the county announced a 12-week consultation on plans to close 106 of its buildings, including 29 libraries and more than 30 youth and children’s hubs.

Mr Morris, a Liberal Democrat candidate in May 5’s Burnley council elections, said he was alarmed Cllr Johnstone, whose county council ward covers Padiham, plans to create a new neighbourhood centre in the town hall covering both library and youth services.

He said: “I am very concerned about the future of both the library and youth centre in Padiham and the level of service they will provide.

“They are vital to the town and if we lose any of the current service it will hit young people in particular and lead to more anti-social behaviour.

“I already had more than 100 signatures on my protest petition to Prime Minister David Cameron and I am getting a very good response from people in the town centre who are signing up.

“Cllr Johnstone has failed to give a cast-iron guarantee Padiham will still have a fully-staffed and open library and an adequate youth service in the town after the consultation.

“Padiham already receives poorer services than the rest of Burnley and Lancashire and local residents need to fight to keep those that we have.”

Mr Morris, who has no normal feeling below his knee after an infection in 2014, said: “I am here for at least a couple of days, until my legs give out.

“Then I am taking my protest to County Hall and may stand in the next borough council elections opposing the cuts.

“Labour won’t stand up for the people of Padiham because they run the county.”

Cllr Johnstone, also a borough councillor, declined to give an absolute assurance that the youth service and library would be retained without cutbacks.

He said: “I can assure the people of Padiham I am working to ensure that the town keeps a full-staffed library with a full service and a proper youth services.

“This is a ridiculous stunt by a man who stood for the LibDems on May 5 and failed to get elected.

“There was never any question of closing Padiham library.

“This whole exercise has been forced on the county by the government requiring us to save more than £200million by 2021.”

Cllr Tatchell said: “I understand Mr Morris’s concern and it is up to him to protest how he sees fit.

“I am in contact with Cllr Johnstone on this issue to ensure Padiham does not lose out.

“Personally, I would rather keep the library and youth centre open but I understand the position the county is in.”

A Lancashire County Council spokesman said: “Our property strategy proposals would see Padiham retain its services, but with some changes to the buildings used to deliver them in order to contribute towards the savings we need to make.

“We’re currently holding a 12-week consultation on these proposals and would ask people to let us know what they think.”