Bill Esterson writes to Eric Pickles to ask for ring-fenced fund

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson outside Carnegie Library in Crosby.


Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has written to Tory-Lib Dem Government Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles to ask him to provide ring-fenced funding for libraries in Sefton.

Bill Esterson's questions to Mr Pickles come ahead of a consultation into the future of the library service in Sefton, which could see all but seven libraries in the borough, including Aintree and Crosby's Carnegie libraries, closed.

The review of libraries was launched by the Liberal Democrats in Sefton when they were in charge of the service.

Sefton Council has had its budget slashed by the Tory-Lib Dem Government by £107.5m.

In his questions to Eric Pickles, Bill has asked whether the government has taken into account the impact of the loss of library services to areas like Aintree and Crosby.

Bill has asked Mr Pickles:

  *   If he will give consideration to creating a ring-fenced grant for library services for local authorities?
  *   What recent assessment the secretary of state has made of the effect on local communities of library closures in (a.) Sefton and (b.) England?
  *   What assessment has he made of the effect of Government funding reductions on the ability of Sefton Council to operate library services?.
  *   What assessment he has made of the effect on pensioners, people with disabilities and people on low incomes of the closure of libraries in Sefton and in England?

Bill said: "Sefton Council has had its budget slashed by the Tory-Lib Dem Government, so services are going to suffer. The council is having to make some very serious decisions about what stays and what goes purely because they are being forced to do so by the government

"It comes down to what services the council can afford and what it cannot.

"There are services which the council is legally obliged to provide, such as bin collections, and there are others which they are not. The cuts from central government are going so far that the only services which are ring-fenced are those which the council is legally obliged to deliver. Library services are not ring-fenced so are at risk from this govrrnment.

"I have asked the government minister responsible, Eric Pickles to provide ring-fenced funding to local authorities for library services.

"There is no legal obligation to provide library services but that doesn't mean the libraries are not vitally important to many people in our communities."

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson with Aintree Village Parish Council chairman Cllr Terry Baldwin and Aintree Village Library campaigners.Bill said the Government must know the impact of its swingeing cuts on local authorities like Sefton.

Bill said: "While making these cuts, the Tories and Lib Dems in Government must have made assessments about what impact the axing of services, like library closures, would have on local communities in Sefton and up and down the country.

"If they did, I would like to know what their findings are about Aintree and Crosby.

"A large number of people have contacted me over recent weeks to tell me why they oppose the possible closure of their library. People have told me how much they value the library. The library means more to this community than a place to borrow books.

"It is used by young and old alike and is a lifeline for a number of people. For many people it is the place they go to read the paper. For others it is the internet and a place to find information. For some vulnerable people the library is a vital service.

"For many older people the libraries are a lifeline.

"That's why I will continue to lobby Eric Pickles and the Tory-Lib Dem Government for funding for our libraries, and why I will continue to support campaigners in Aintree and Crosby to find a way to save their library services."

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