When music icon Dolly Parton launched a literacy scheme in Rotherham she hoped it would be the first step towards creating ‘millions of memories.’
The town was the first place in Europe to get the global icon’s Imagination Library in 2008 – in which children under five receive a free book every month – amid massive fanfare.
But the excitement has turned to ‘disappointment’ seven years later after Rotherham Council chiefs decided to axe the scheme to save £400,000.
The Dollywood Foundation UK, which oversees the project for the singer, has urged parents to share their views about 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,” a foundation spokesman said.
“The programme has been successful and we hope parents and caregivers who value the programme will share their feelings with the council.
“May all of Rotherham’s children continue to have every opportunity to dream more, learn more, care more and be more.”
Since its launch, the scheme has delivered 950,000 books reaching 85 per cent of the town’s under fives.
Councillors last night gave the green light to next year’s budget – which includes £23m of cuts.
The Imagination Library is to be axed and council tax increased.
Coun Chris Read, the new council leader, said there were ‘difficult decisions’ to make.
He said: “Residents told us which areas were most important to them and this has resulted in additional investment being put into children’s services, extra street cleansing and resurfacing roads.
“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 receive books until the summer.
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