A NUMBER of libraries are being threatened with closure as Town Hall chiefs look to save £60 million over the next two years.
The latest rounds of cuts are the most savage yet, with all areas of the council, including the previously protected children’s and adult social care — and Sure Start centres—being hit.
But council bosses are to carry out a review of the remaining branches to determine which could be axed.
Cllr Cliff Morris, leader of the council, said: “We have to look at all the options and mark the libraries on the various factors, including current footfall, geographic position, whether they are fit for purpose and the accessibility.
“We have difficult decisions to make and this is one of them. Some of the buildings are not fit for purpose but I just do not have the money to invest in them.”
But he said those which remained open could get longer opening hours and offer more services.
The move to close libraries is expected to save the authority between £400,000 and £500,000 over the next two years, depending on how many libraries are closed.
Sure Start Children’s Centres, a flagship Labour initiative, provide support for parents, regardless of their need.
As part of the cuts, the council has admitted that that type of “universal service” will be axed and only those with a greater need will be able to access it.
During the last General Election, Bolton North East MP David Crausby warned that a Conservative Government would close one in three Sure Start Centres, a claim the Tories vigorously denied.
Margaret Asquith, the council’s director of children’s services, said: “We are having to look at Children’s Centres and seeing which activities we can keep although these will be targeted at those with the most need. The universal or wrap-around service we provide now will not be able to continue.”
She added that the whole children’s services department would have to be restructured to cope with about £13 million worth of cuts.
But she stressed: “We will continue to maintain the aims of protecting the most vulnerable, targeting those with the most need, targeting those in deprived areas and keeping children and the organisation safe.”
Nursery places for babies are also under threat, while schools will take over responsibility for the careers advice currently offered through the Connexions service.
Schemes working with young mums, targeted youth work and family support will end.
Deputy council leader Cllr Linda Thomas said troubled children who are currently identified and helped at an early age could slip through the net.
“This will have an effect further down the line with more referrals to the youth offending team and other such agencies,” she said.
“It will set us back years and completely undermine everything we have been working towards for the past 10 years or more.”
Across the council, more than 1,300 people have been sent letters to say their jobs may be axed.