Library campaigners welcome consultation

Julie Harrison, from Save Lincolnshire Libraries.
Julie Harrison, from Save Lincolnshire Libraries.

Campaigners opposed to cuts to Lincolnshire’s library service have welcomed the launch of a new consultation over the proposals, though voiced their concern over how the exercise will be conducted.

Lincolnshire County Council will in the coming weeks be once again asking the public for their thoughts on the future of its libraries.

Its original decision to cut the service by £2m and hand over control of 30 libraries (including those at Ruskington and Metheringham) to volunteer groups was quashed by the High Court following a judicial review.

The judge was unhappy with how the consultation had been conducted and the amount of consideration given to a proposal from Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) to 
take on the running of the service.

In announcing that a new consultation would launch next month, the council said fresh talks would be had with GLL over its proposal.

A spokesman for Save Lincolnshire Libraries, which campaigned against the cuts, said it welcomed the council’s decision to engage with GLL, but had concerns over the new consultation, fearing it may be a ‘re-run of the original’.

Julie Harrison, from Save Lincolnshire Libraries, said the impression from the council over the past year or so was that ‘everything was fine and dandy’ about its plan.

“It wasn’t,” she said. “And we need to be sure that the council has understood that.”

She added: “However, we are pleased that the council is now discussing with Greenwich Leisure their plan to maintain the libraries and the staff, while working with volunteers and also making savings.

“Our main aim has always been to keep the libraries staffed and open.

“In view of the High Court decision, the county council should be planning to provide this through Greenwich Leisure or another similar organisation, and we would welcome that.”

Coun Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, said last week at a meeting of 
the council’s executive the authority had ‘an open mind’ over the future of the library service.