CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to seek a judicial review or lobby Culture Secretary Karen Bradley over controversial plans to close more than 20 libraries in East Lancashire.

An 11th-hour bid to halt Lancashire County Council’s property review, also affecting children’s and day care centres, was successful last night.


The authority’s scrutiny committee agreed to a request by Conservative opponents for the Labour-run council to reconsider the issue.

Cllr Geoff Driver, Tory leader, said the authority was £50million better off now than anticipated and should rethink their approach.

“The county council has decided to do this the wrong way around. We have got a property strategy when what we should have had was a series of service review, he said.

Cllr Richard Redicliffe, a Fylde borough councillor, said the wider cuts plan “could lead to a judicial review” on the grounds closure decisions were “pre-determined” before the property consultation, or lead to a challenge being lodged with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Cllr David Borrow, deputy council leader, said the authority’s reserves would run out by the end of 2018-19, while the funding gap for statutory services the county council must provide, will be around £148million.

Labour accused the Tories of seeking to borrow to back their proposals instead of taking “tough decisions”.

Cllr Marcus Johnstone, the libraries cabinet member, said: “I didn’t come into politics to close libraries. But to go down the road that the Conservative group is suggesting, for a short-term fix, would be irresponsible.”

He dismissed the prospect of the county library service merging with another area, as most were far smaller than Lancashire. But he did say a community libraries officer was being employed to explore opportunities to run volunteer facilities.