Consultation on County Council Property Plans
Lancashire County Council is asking people for their views on plans to change the way frontline services are delivered and save millions of pounds by reducing the number of buildings the council owns and rents.
A 12-week consultation starts today (Wednesday 18 May) on plans 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.
Meanwhile many buildings would no longer be used and the number of places at which some services are available would reduce.
Lancashire County Council needs to save £200m by 2020/21 as a result of ongoing government cuts to its budget and rising demand for services. The proposals for buildings respond to savings agreed by Full Council in February 2016, with fewer buildings being needed to deliver reduced services.
County Councillor Jenny Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "The aim of the property strategy is to ensure we have the buildings we need to provide good access to good services, but within a much reduced budget.
"The severity of the county council's financial position cannot be overstated, and the ongoing cuts in central government funding combined with rising demand for some of our services means we have no choice but to make changes to the way we serve communities throughout Lancashire.
"Whilst people can have a strong connection to individual buildings, our focus has to be on how we deliver our services effectively. These proposals mean some services will have to be further away than they are now, but people will still have good access to them.
"These proposals are the result of a lot of hard work to assess where services should be located, taking account of factors such as geographic spread, the needs of different communities, and access issues such as how easily they can be reached using public transport.
"The consultation is now open and we would very much welcome people's views and help in shaping the final proposals. As part of this process we're asking people to complete a questionnaire which will help us to fully understand how buildings are currently used and the impact of the changes we are proposing to make.
"While we need to make sure our buildings fit the shape of our future services, nothing has been decided and we'll be listening very carefully to what people have to say.
"We're also ready to consider proposals from groups which may want to take on full responsibility for any council-owned building which we've identified as no longer being needed, in order to use it for the benefit of the local community. I'd encourage any group in that position to read the consultation documents and contact us at the earliest opportunity."
The plans for Neighbourhood Centres form part of the council's property strategy and propose changes to where some services, 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 registration services, are delivered in the future.
You can now access the consultation online at www.lancashire.gov.uk – this features an interactive map to make it easy to see the changes being proposed where you live. Information will also be available at libraries and children's centres by early June. The consultation starts on Wednesday 18 May and is due to end on Sunday 14 August. The county council will take a final decision later in the year.