Six organisations have shown an interest in running Lincolnshire’s library service.
Lincolnshire County Council put the bulk of the service out to tender last month after deciding in February to cut £2m from its £6m annual libraries budget.
As a result of that decision, number of council-run libraries will drop from 47 to 15. But a bid during the consultation process from Greenwich Leisure Limited to run the county’s libraries meant the council had to put the remaining service out to tender.
Initial applications to deliver library services in Lincolnshire have now been sent in by six organisations. They are Compass Point Business Services, Greenwich Leisure Limited, Leisure in the Community, Lincs Inspire, Vision, and Vivacity.
Stamford Library and Bourne Library are among the 15 covered by the procurement process. Deepings Library was one of those to lose its funding. Talks between the Friends of Deepings Library and the council over the future of the facility are ongoing.
Campaign group Save Lincolnshire Libraries hopes to challenge the council’s decision to cut the service in the High Court. A successful challenge from the group last year forced the council to re-run its consultation on the plans.
The council’s executive member for libraries Coun Nick Worth (Con) said: “Although we’re facing a second legal challenge, we believe we took the right decision and took it lawfully, so we intend to push on with our plans.
“The way in which our libraries are used has changed and it’s important they adapt with the times.
“In addition, we can’t ignore the fact that by the end of this decade the council’s overall budget will have been almost halved.
“We believe it’s only fair that the library service plays its part in finding the necessary savings.
“However, under our proposals, we can do this in a way that both saves money and creates a service that’s fit for the 21st century.”
An initial evaluation will now take place, with short-listed organisations then asked to submit a detailed bid. A final decision is expected to be made at the end of the year.