Council leader’s U-turn on Deepings Library petition

Lincolnshire County Council Leader, Coun Martin Hill.
Lincolnshire County Council Leader, Coun Martin Hill.

The leader of Lincolnshire County Council has admitted he would not have signed a petition against the closure of Deepings Library had he known its full wording.

The library in High Street, Market Deeping, is one of 32 under threat in the county as the council looks to save £2m from its annual £6m library budget.

Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill (Con) signs the petition against the closure of Deepings Library, with Deeping St James county councillor Phil Dilks (Lab)

Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill (Con) signs the petition against the closure of Deepings Library, with Deeping St James county councillor Phil Dilks (Lab)

Campaigners have been fighting the plans and held a stall outside the library at Deepings Raft Race on Sunday to get more signatures on their petition.

They were thrilled when county council leader Coun Martin Hill (Con) stopped by and signed the document, pictured left.

But Coun Hill has since changed his stance after learning of the full wording of the petition, which states: “We the undersigned call on Lincolnshire County Council to reconsider the plan to withdraw funding which risks closure of Deepings Library.”

Coun Hill, who represents the Folkingham Rural ward, said: “The reason I signed the petition was to keep the library open. This is a consultation.

“The funding issue is something we have got to address. We have got to find £2m of savings - this is not really negotiable.

“We are keen to keep the libraries open but we have got to find savings.”

Coun Hill said if he had known the full wording he probably wouldn’t have signed the petition.

He added: “I am more than happy to sign a petition to save Deepings Library but we have got to find a more cost-effective way of keeping it open.”

The council hopes community groups will come forward to run libraries on a voluntary basis. But should these groups fail, the libraries would receive no more council support and would close.

The consultation also covers mobile libraries, with Aslackby, Braceborough, Greatford, Haconby, Kirkby Underwood, Little Bytham, Manthorpe, South Witham, Swinstead, Thurlby and Witham-on-the-Hill set to lose their service.

Hours will be cut in Castle Bytham, Tallington, Uffington, Corby Glen and Folkingham, although hours will actually increase in Baston, Morton and Hanthorpe, Colsterworth, Langtoft and Northorpe.

Should the consultation be approved, opening hours at Stamford Library in High Street would be cut from 55 hours a week to 50.

The consultation runs until September 30. Visit the Lincolnshire County Council website to take part.