Councillor concerns at proposed closure of Market Deeping library

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Councillors have expressed their concerns at news that one library may close and another may have its hours cut.

Lincolnshire County Council wants to reduce its library services and save £1.938m as it tries to cut £125m from its budget over a four-year period.

Under the plans Stamford’s hours would be cut by five hours a week, but it has been marked as one of 10 priority libraries in the county.

But the Deepings branch is one of 32 which could close and be replaced by a mobile service. Communities will be offered grants to run their own libraries.

County councillor for Deeping St James Phil Dilks (Lab) is worried.

He said: “I recognise the library service may have to take a hit but I will be fighting our corner.

“Libraries are a key service and at every level we try to encourage people to read - closing libraries is not the way to do that.”

Coun Dilks said the Deepings had a bigger population than some of the towns where libraries could be kept.

Coun Peter Robinson (Con), county councillor for Market and West Deeping, said he used the library himself and would be concerned at any changes to the service.

But he added: “No decision has been made yet, it is at the very early stages.”

The plans were revealed in an agenda to the council’s community and public safety scrutiny committee, which will look at the proposals on Wednesday before the executive meets to discuss it on Tuesday, July 2.

If approved by the executive, the consultation will be launched on July 3 and run until September 30.

As part of the proposals, Stamford Library in High Street could be one of 10 priority “tier one” libraries, which would be open for 50 hours a week over six days and have the highest levels of stock.

At the moment it is open for 55 hours a week. More than 8,000 people used the library during 2012/13.

Stamford West county councillor David Brailsford (Con) said the changes proposed for Stamford’s library were not significant.

He added: “From my point of view, it would be great if the library can stay open for the same number of hours as at present.

“These are just options for discussion.”

The other “tier one” libraries would be in Lincoln, Grantham, Boston, Spalding, Gainsborough, Skegness, Louth, Sleaford, and Mablethorpe.

There would be five “tier two” libraries, four which would open for 25 hours a week.

Bourne Library would also be a “tier two” library but would be open for 46 hours because it shares the Corn Exchange with South Kesteven District Council, which now runs the library.

A total of £326,974 would be saved by cutting hours at tier one and two libraries.

The remaining 32 libraries, including the one in High Street, Market Deeping, would close and be replaced by a mobile service of six or eight hours a month.

Deepings Library is open for 30 hours a week and about 2,700 people used it in 2012/13.

If the proposals were to go ahead, 170 jobs would be axed across the county - the equivalent of 55 full-time jobs.

The council said it wanted to encourage communities to take over library services. The council is offering communities £5,000 a year to run a library and up to 4,000 books, as well as a one-off payment of £15,000 for building works and equipment. Anyone who wanted to take the council up on the offer would have until September 30 to complete an expression of interest form and return it.

Mobile library services would be changed in Baston, which currently runs for one hour a week; Colsterworth, which runs for an hour and a half and Langtoft, which runs for an hour and a half. These would all be replaced by services for six or eight hours a month.

Mobile services would be affected with the service in Corby Glen being reduced by half an hour and the service in Uffington would increase by half an hour.

Home library services currently provided in Braceborough, Greatford, Little Bytham, South Witham, Swayfield, Swinstead and Witham-on-the-Hill would be axed under the plans.