PLANS to shut more than 20 libraries in East Lancashire as part of a major cuts programme are set to be given the go ahead.

The move has been branded a ‘disgrace’ by campaigners, many of whom had fought to keep their local services.

Libraries set to be lost include Rosegrove, Briercliffe, Barrowford, Trawden, Oswaldtwistle, Rishton, Whalley and Read.

However, there was some good news for Brierfield, Bacup and Whitworth libraries which were given a stay of execution.

Young people’s and community centres will also be removed from Lancashire County Council control as part of the latest phase of a £262million budget reduction initiative.

In total more than 100 buildings are being recommended for closure by councillors, who will make the decision at a cabinet meeting on Thursday, September 8.

The number of places at which some services are available would also be reduce if the proposal goes ahead.

Critics have blasted County Hall saying the move will have a negative effect on the likes of Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale and Ribble Valley.

The council said feedback from 7,700 responses had been taken into account in forming its proposals proposals.

It intends to bring services together to form ‘a network of multi-functional buildings known as Neighbourhood Centres, which would provide a base for a range of different services in one place’.

The plans, which form part of the council’s property strategy, propose changes to where some services are provided, including libraries, children’s services, children’s centres, young people’s centres, youth offending teams, older people’s daytime support services, adult disability day services and registrars.

Cllr Gordon Birtwistle, leader of Burnley’s Liberal Democrats, said: “It is absolutely disgraceful what they are doing to our libraries. They are one of our best centres of learning and especially popular among older residents.

“Like we’ve said with the repaving of Burnley town centre, the county council has got its priorities all wrong. And obviously the further east you go, the worst the impact on services is because County Hall is so Preston-centric. This is possibly the worst case scenario for us.”

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “It just doesn’t make sense to me to close the libraries.

“The libraries do need to be looked at in order to provide a better service for those in the community but they are important to people and lots of people rely on them.

“It’s simply outrageous, it’s something that shouldn’t be happening.”

County Cllr Peter Britcliffe, who represents Oswaldtwistle, said: “I think it is an outrage that East Lancashire is being hit as hard as it is.

“It is a real shame because the Conservative group didn’t think the libraries had to close, as we put together a plan that would have involved them all staying open.

“The east of the county is well known for being a deprived area and I would say we need library services a lot more than the west do.

“In Oswaldtwistle a group got together and fought very hard to keep the library open because they know as much as I do that it’s the heart of the community.

“Losing a library like that has a big impact on people. It makes a big difference to people from having to walk down the road to the library to getting a bus into Accrington.”

County Councillor David Borrow, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council and portfolio holder for finance, said: “We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the consultation – their feedback has been invaluable in helping to shape the final proposals and the Cabinet will be giving the report careful consideration.

“Our aim is to find a solution that still gives everyone in Lancashire good access to good services, despite the pressures on the council’s budget.

“We have done a lot of work to assess where services should be located in future, taking account of things such as geographic spread, accessibility and the needs of different communities. Some of the changes to the proposals reflect what people have told us about the way they access these services.

“We’re also keen to continue exploring the potential for other groups and organisations to take on responsibility for some of the affected buildings and services, so we’re grateful for the interest that has been shown in that possibility over the last few months. The report acknowledges that more work will be needed to assess the business cases that have been put forward.”