Lincolnshire County Council approves consulting on plans to close libraries

Deepings Library
Deepings Library
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Lincolnshire County Council has approved going to consultation on proposals to close Deepings Library and cut hours at other libraries.

The council’s executive met this morning (Tuesday) to consider proposals to close 32 of the 47 libraries in Lincolnshire, including the library in High Street, Market Deeping, and cutting hours at other libraries, including Stamford Library.

A proposal to go to consultation was unanimously approved by members in the last few minutes.

Last week a community and public safety scrutiny 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.

In the Deepings, a campaign has already been started to save Deepings Library and a petition has been set up. A public meeting is also due to be held on Thursday, July 11 at 7.15pm for 7.30pm at Deepings Community Centre.

County councillor for Deeping St James Phil Dilks (Lab) was not at this morning’s meeting but said he was “disappointed” to hear the executive had gone against the recommendation by the scrutiny committee.

He said: “This decision just makes us more determined than ever to save the library. I have told people if we do nothing we will certainly not save the library so I would appeal to everyone to sign the petition and make their voices heard.

“I am confident we will save the library with the support of the community.”

South Kesteven district councillor Judy Stevens (Ind) said she was also disappointed and urged people to attend the meeting to make their views known.

A campaign group set up called Save Lincolnshire Libraries was also disappointed.

Spokesman Paul Stainthorp said: “It’s the market towns and villages that will be hit hardest by library cuts. You may be lucky enough to end up with only a half-hour bus ride to the nearest council-run library – the county council thinks this should be good enough for you.

“But for many people, the rising cost of travel means that a visit to the library will become an occasional luxury.”

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 last week, it may have to save even more.

The consultation will start tomorrow (Wednesday) and run until September 30.

The council is offering grants to communities which step forward to run their own 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.

When the consultation was proposed executive member for libraries Nick Worth (Con) said the way people used libraries was changing and said: “Despite the need for change, our ambition is to keep all of Lincolnshire’s libraries open. However, this is only going to work with the support of our local communities.”

He reissued that statement today.

For further details on the proposals and to take part in the consultation visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/librariesconsultation. Alternatively, call 01522 782040 or pick up a copy of the questionnaire in your local library.

The executive will make the final decision at its meeting in December once it has had a chance to review the feedback from the consultation.