A consultation has been launched on closing Rotherham’s much-loved Dolly Parton book scheme for children – even though the proposal was agreed as part of the council’s budget.
In February, councillors agreed a budget which included a proposal to axe the Imagination Library in 2015-16 to save £333,000 in the next year and £67,000 the following year.
The Dollywood Foundation UK, which runs the scheme on behalf of music icon Dolly Parton, said after the decision: “It is an honour and pleasure for us to serve the children of Rotherham so we are most disappointed about the proposal to cease the Imagination Library in Rotherham.”
Council leader Coun Chris Read said at the time: “We appreciate many families have valued the Imagination Library, but unfortunately cuts meant we could no longer afford to fund it to the tune of £400,000 over the next two years.
“Children will continue to receive books from the Imagination Library until the summer.”
Now the council has started a month-long consultation on the decision to close the scheme.
A spokesman said proposals were ‘outlined’ in the budget plan after consultation on what spending priorities should be – such as protecting vulnerable people, getting others into work and keeping streets cleaner.
She added: “People are now asked for their views on the future of the Imagination Library, in a month-long consultation which closes on June 10, 2015.
“It is a legal requirement that formal consultation must take place before the final decision is made, to give residents the opportunity to comment on the proposals.”
The council’s budget outlined £23 million of cuts in total and a council tax increase for residents.
Rotherham was the first town in Europe to get the Imagination Library back in 2008 – amid massive fanfare – which works by providing children aged under five with a free book every month.
When it was launched Dolly Parton said she hoped it would be the first step towards creating ‘millions of memories.’ Since its launch, the scheme has delivered 950,000 books, reaching 85 per cent of the town’s under fives.
The Dollywood Foundation asked people to share their views with the council. n To take part email email@example.com, visit www.rotherham.gov.uk/consultations or write to The Imagination Library Consultation, Rotherham Council, Wing 1C Riverside House, Main Street, Rotherham S60 1AE.