Libraries could be put out to tender

Author and Methodist minister Ann Barker gives a talk at Deepings Library, organised by the Friends of Deepings Library. EMN-141119-181837001
Author and Methodist minister Ann Barker gives a talk at Deepings Library, organised by the Friends of Deepings Library. EMN-141119-181837001

A council has warned that its library services could be put out to tender after a bid by a not-for-profit group was deemed acceptable.

Greenwich Leisure Limited put forward a plan to run Lincolnshire County Council’s library services during the failed consultation last year.

The bid was turned down but a High Court judge said the council had not properly considered it.

Greenwich Leisure has since resubmitted the bid, and council officers have recommended the plan be formally accepted as having met the authority’s Community Right to Challenge scheme, which allows certain groups to ask to become involved in assisting with or delivering services.

Should the council decide to consider Greenwich Leisure’s bid, it would then have to put the service out to tender. But councillors first need to consider the results of the new consultation, which ended on October 31.

Tony McGinty is a member of the Community Right to Challenge Panel, which recommended Greenwich Leisure’s bid be accepted for consideration by the council. He said: “If the panel’s recommendation is approved and Greenwich Leisure’s expression of interest is accepted as valid, the council will need to carry out a procurement exercise, which will probably lead to library services being put out to tender.

“However, before that happens, the council’s executive would still need to consider what kind of shape future library services should take. We expect that to happen in February 2015.

“This will not necessarily be the type of model that would be favoured by Greenwich Leisure, and it would need to take into account the feedback received during consultation.

“Only after that discussion has happened would we invite people to put forward their bids.

“Because of the work involved in a tender process, it is likely to be at least a year before a final decision is reached.”

Under the council’s original proposals, designed to save £2m, 32 out of 47 libraries would lose their funding. One of those would have been Deepings Library in Market Deeping.

The Friends of Deepings Library was formed to take over the running of the library should it be forced to close. The group recently organised a successful evening with author and Methodist minister Ann Barker.