Glimmer of hope in fight to save Deepings library

Deeping St James parish councillor Andrew Bowell, left, and county councillor Phil Dilks with the petition and sign
Deeping St James parish councillor Andrew Bowell, left, and county councillor Phil Dilks with the petition and sign
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Campaigners who have started a fight to save Deepings Library from closure have been given a glimmer of hope.

Lincolnshire County Council’s community and public safety scrutiny committee met on Wednesday to look into proposals by the council to cut £2m from its library budget. The proposals include closing 32 of the 47 libraries in Lincolnshire, including the library in High Street, Market Deeping, and cutting hours at other libraries, including Stamford Library.

But the committee has put forward a recommendation to the executive that it goes back to the drawing board and scraps plans to go out to consultation.

The executive will make the final decision as to whether to go out to consultation at a meeting on Tuesday.

County councillor for Deeping St James Phil Dilks (Lab) is not a member of the scrutiny committee but gave a speech, calling the plans “flawed and unnecessary”.

He said afterwards: “We have won the first battle to save Deepings Library but we will have to wait and see what happens when the executive meet. I spoke at the scrutiny meeting and there was clearly real concern these proposals weren’t the way forward.”

Coun Dilks also sits on South Kesteven District Council alongside Judy Stevens (Ind), with both representing Deeping St James. She had planned to hold a public meeting on the proposals but is waiting for the executive’s decision.

Coun Stevens said: “It is very encouraging news.

“We have had to put up with a lot in the Deepings and I think this is just one step too far. We need more facilities, not less.”

Andrew Bowell, a Deeping St James parish councillor, set up an online petition on Friday last week to fight the closure and also has copies of the petition at the Spar shop in Godsey Lane, Market Deeping. He has also been going door-to-door to find out what people think of the plans. So far, more than 500 people have signed the petition.

Coun Bowell, who lives in Burchnall Close, Deeping St James, said it would be “a tragedy and a travesty” if the library were to close.

He said: “I have used the library on and off for a while and I know a lot of people who use it. It’s not just about books, it’s a valuable resource with computers and it is used by a lot of children for their education.

“We can’t lose these things without putting up a fight.”

Unison has also expressed concerns over the plans, which would see 170 jobs axed across the county.

The county council is looking to save £125m over fours years and following Chancellor George Osborne’s Spending Review announcement this week, it may have to save even more.

If the consultation is approved on Tuesday, it will start the next day and run until September 30.

The council is offering grants to communities which step forward to run their own library but Coun Bowell said the money offered was not enough to run a successful library. The council is offering £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.

As part of the proposals, the council has also suggested cutting the number of hours Stamford Library is open from 55 hours a week to 50. Stamford would be one of 10 priority “tier one” libraries across the county, open for 50 hours six days a week. Bourne Library would be one of five “tier two” libraries, four of which would be open for 25 hours a week. However, Bourne Library would be open for 46 hours a week as it is run by South Kesteven District Council as part of an arrangement when it moved into the Corn Exchange with all the other town, district and county council services.

Coun Bowell said four of the towns which would have tier two libraries under the proposals had smaller populations than the Deepings.

He said the petition was being run now so it would be ready to present to the council if the consultation was formally started. To see the petition, visit www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/lincolnshire-county-council-reconsider-the-proposal-to-close-the-library-in-the-deepings.

Letters – page 13