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Campaigners: ‘We will run the library ourselves’

County councillor Phil Dilks (Lab) speaks to residents at the public meeting on plans to close Deepings Library

County councillor Phil Dilks (Lab) speaks to residents at the public meeting on plans to close Deepings Library

 

A group of volunteers have stepped in to save their library from closure after the county council decided to pull its funding.

The newly-formed Friends of Deepings Library has submitted a business plan to Lincolnshire County Council to run Deepings Library.

The council decided in December to withdraw funding from 32 of its 47 libraries, including the one in High Street, Market Deeping.

A campaign was launched to save the Deepings Library and more than 8,000 people signed a petition opposing its closure.

But the Friends group, backed by Market Deeping Town Council and Deeping St James Parish Council, has now decided to step in and run the facility on a voluntary basis.

The group met council leader Martin Hill (Con) at the library to discuss the issue and reached an agreement to keep the library in the Grade II-listed Wade House.

Friends spokesman Ashley Baxter, who sits on both the town and parish councils, said: “Most of us would have preferred the county council to continue to run the library directly, and running a volunteer library on regular hours will be no mean feat.

“However, if we can protect the building and keep a library in it then we have to call that a decent result.

“Wade House is a part of our local history and has been the home of our library for many years - as a result of this agreement it will continue to be so.”

A business plan has now been submitted. The plan assumes the library will work in partnership with the neighbouring community centre in Douglas Road.

Nothing has yet been set in stone and the future of the library could depend on the outcome of a judicial review. County campaign group Save Lincolnshire Libraries has asked a judge to look into the entire consultation into the library service.

But Deeping St James parish councillor Andrew Bowell said he was pleased Deepings Library would not be moved from its historic home at Wade House.

He added: “Instead, the county will repair and refurbish the building, after years of neglect, so that, regardless of the outcome of the judicial review, it would be fit for purpose again and will continue to serve the community as a library for the future.”

The council’s executive member for libraries Nick Worth (Con) said the meeting with the Friends was “very constructive”, adding: “We are delighted that we have reached a solution that is agreeable to the volunteers, who have put in a business case to run it.

“As we’ve always said, there is no reason why the library shouldn’t remain open, as long as it has the support of the local community.

“We’ll be offering the group both financial and professional support, helping create a firm foundation for the long-term future of the new community hub.”

Coun Worth said the council was looking at all the business plans it had received for its libraries. Seven communities have also applied to create new libraries.

He added: “We’re aiming to respond to all groups by May 2.”

The Friends of Deepings Library already has more than 100 members, many of whom have offered to become volunteer librarians when the community takes over the management of the building.

Anyone else who wishes to get involved can phone Ashley Baxter on 01778 344070 or e-mail library@hydrostat.co.uk.

 

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