Council uses data for the wrong Thurlby during library consultation

A Lincolnshire County Council mobile library
A Lincolnshire County Council mobile library
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Residents are likely to keep their mobile library service despite a council confusing their village with a hamlet of the same name.

Thurlby residents were disappointed to learn their mobile library visits would be cancelled as part of Lincolnshire County 
Council’s cuts to the service.

But they couldn’t understand why the village, which has about 1,000 homes and more than 2,000 residents, hadn’t been included in the tier three category, comprising communities with at least 550 households.

Instead Thurlby had been placed with villages like Haconby and Aslackby, which have populations of less than 500, and would only receive the home library service.

After parish councillors complained it emerged that Thurlby had been confused with a tiny hamlet of the same name near Lincoln, made up of about 20 homes.

Thurlby Parish Council chairman Barry Dobson said it was a relief the mistake had been corrected.

He added: “We have a lot of elderly people in the village who like to use the library but can’t get to Bourne because it’s a mile to get to the bus stop.

“It’s important to the village. Everyone relies on iPads and everything else, which is very good, but people should really be encouraged to read.”

The county council needs to cut £2m from its annual £6m library budget.

Assistant director for economy and culture Jenny Gammon said: “In putting together the original proposals, the population figures for Thurlby were inadvertently mixed up with those for a place of the same name near Lincoln.

“However, this was picked up during the consultation process, and as a result, Thurlby has been upgraded to a tier three community under the revised proposals.”

The revised proposals were revealed last week after a 90-day consultation. Thurlby, including Northorpe, has now been placed in tier three alongside Baston, Billingborough, Colsterworth, Langtoft, Morton and Hanthorpe and South Witham. The mobile library will visit tier three locations for two hours every four weeks.

A number of villages which were due to have a mobile service replaced by home library visits will now see no change.

They include Aslackby, Greatford, Haconby, Kirkby Underwood, Manthorpe, Swinstead, and Witham-on-the-Hill which have been added to tier four. Tallington, Rippingale, Uffington and Corby Glen were already in tier four.

But some residents will have to rely on the home service, which is designed for people with disabilities or ill health. These include Braceborough, Castle Bytham, Little Bytham and Folkingham.

The council also wants to close 32 of its 47 static libraries, including Deepings Library. Campaigners believe their library was put in the wrong category. It was placed in tier three, alongside much smaller places such as Woodhall Spa and Long Sutton. All static libraries in tier three are earmarked for closure and to be replaced by a mobile service.

Campaigners have launched a last-ditch appeal to decision-makers to save their library.

County councillor for Deeping St James Phil Dilks (Lab) said: “The truth is the people of the Deepings have run a fantastic cross-party campaign, actively supported by more than 9,000 people including our MP John Hayes to point out the county’s mistake of putting the Deepings in the wrong category.

“We’ve clearly made the strongest case to show why Deepings deserves to keep its council-run library.”

Opening hours at Bourne library will stay the same, while Stamford’s will be cut by five to 50 per week.

The proposals will go before the county council’s community and public safety scrutiny committee on Monday, before a final decision is taken by the executive on Tuesday.

An alternative proposal from the Lincolnshire Independent group, which would keep static libraries open and retain most mobile stops, will also be considered by the scrutiny committee.