THE former Earby Library is to be sold by Lancashire County Council (LCC).

As part of the council's property strategy, the LCC is selling six former library buildings at Barrowford, Bolton-le-Sands, Earby, Freckleton, Fulwood and Whalley as it works to ensure people still have good access to services close to where they live, whilst facing the need to make massive savings.

The strategy will reduce the number of buildings the council owns and rents and form a network of multi-functional buildings known as neighbourhood centres, which will provide a base for a range of different services in one place.

There will be changes to where some services are delivered in the future, 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 the registration service.

David Hartley is chairman of Earby's New Road Community Centre, which he said will serve as one of the LCC's neighbourhood centres.

Mr Hartley said: "Earby is geographically separate from everyone else, and as bus services aren't what they used to be we need a centre for the local population and surrounding villages."

Last year, it had been mooted that the New Road Community Centre would be considered as a possible location for a new Earby Library.

"Those discussions never happened," said Mr Hartley. "We offered to accommodate the library, but that offer hasn't been taken up."

However, Mr Hartley did say the New Road centre is providing a book swap for local people.

"People can come in to view books or take books, borrow and bring back books or even swap them around whenever the premises are open," he said. "It's an attempt by us to provide a place with reading books, but it obviously can't replace the library."

Speaking about the six former library buildings, councillor David Borrow, deputy leader of the county council, said: "These buildings are the first to go on sale following the county council's decision to change how we deliver our services, and develop new neighbourhood centres with services designed for local needs.

"We’re faced with a very difficult budget position. In 2020/21 we will have a funding gap of £146 million as a result of ongoing government cuts to our budget and rising demand for services.

"We looked into options for community groups to take on responsibility for these buildings, but unfortunately no viable plans came forward, so we're looking to sell these buildings and bring in additional revenue.

"We don't want to be in this position, but we have to make difficult decisions.

"People will still have good access to good services, whilst allowing the council to deliver some of the huge savings we need to make."