Lincolnshire County Council to launch new consultation on library cuts

Deepings Library, High Street, Market Deeping. File picture.'Photo: MSMP250613-010ow
Deepings Library, High Street, Market Deeping. File picture.'Photo: MSMP250613-010ow
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A council will launch a new consultation into its library service after a proposed round of cuts was quashed in a judicial review.

The council was told by a High Court judge in July that its original consultation into closing 32 of 47 libraries was flawed.

The judge also ruled that the council had failed to properly consider a bid by not-for-profit group Greenwich Leisure to run the whole service.

As a result, the council will now launch a new consultation in October. It will also hold talks with Greenwich Leisure.

One of the libraries due for closure was Deepings Library in High Street, Market Deeping.

Executive member for libraries Coun Nick Worth (Con) said: “Under our initial proposal, 74 per cent of Lincolnshire households would be able to reach a council-run library within 30 minutes by public transport, and there would be online and targeted services. These would be complemented by a non-statutory network of community hubs and mobile libraries.

“This remains our preferred option, but we accept that there may be other ways to deliver the excellent and sustainable library service we want for local people.

“Importantly, the court ruling showed that our preferred model would meet our legal duties, and any others put forward for consideration would need to meet this critical requirement.

“They would also need to deliver the required savings.

“Much of the additional work will be aimed at finding out what other options we should consider before making a new decision in the early months of 2015.

“As ever, we will move forward with an open mind.

“We have been impressed by the willingness of communities and volunteers to work with us to develop a network of community hubs in the county. We believe these to be of great value, both now and in the future, and will continue to work closely with these volunteers over the coming months.

“I’d also like to thank our hard-working staff for their continuing professionalism during this difficult time.”

Coun Worth said there were several steps needed to address the issues raised by the judicial review.

One was the further period of consultation, which will start in October. Another was to speak again with Greenwich Leisure.

Coun Worth said the council would also consider expressions of interest to run libraries from elsewhere. Under the initial proposals, community groups were encouraged to run libraries faced with closure on a voluntary basis. The Friends of Deepings Library group had submitted a bid but were adamant they still wanted a council-run library.

Coun Worth added: “The result of receiving a valid expression of interest under the Community Right to Challenge Scheme might be a requirement to put the library service out to competition. In view of this possibility, we will start to make preparations for a possible future procurement process.”

A decision on the future of the library service is expected in February 2015.