Campaigners fighting to save Deepings Library are dismayed after Lincolnshire County Council’s executive approved funding cuts.
The county council’s nine-member executive, including Market Deeping councillor Peter Robinson (Con), unanimously voted to withdraw funding for a professionally run library service at 32 libraries out of 47 of the council-run facilities across the county, at its meeting on Tuesday.
Deepings Library in High Street, Market Deeping, which is currently open for 30 hours a week and has more than 2,000 active borrowers, will be replaced with visits from a mobile library for 17 hours a month.
The council is urging community volunteers to take over the running of their libraries and will write to communities which have not expressed an interest in areas where funding will be withdrawn, including the Deepings.
Lincolnshire county councillor for Deeping St James Phil Dilks (Lab) said: “Deepings has been totally betrayed by a hopelessly out-of-touch executive who run Lincolnshire County Council.
“The all-powerful eight Tories and one Lib Dem refused to listen to more than 9,000 Deepings voices who called for a reprieve for Deepings Library which serves a community of 18,000.
“Instead, they rubber-stamped seriously flawed plans to close our library, unless volunteers come forward to accept £5,000 to run a service that cost £55,000 last year.
“This is closure by stealth because what they are offering is not enough to run a library the size of the Deepings. It’s not sustainable.”
“Their conduct is an affront to democracy and an insult to The Deepings. That’s why I’ll continue our campaign until we get a fair deal for the Deepings.”
The deadline for communities to express an interest in running their own library has been extended to January 31, 2014.
Campaigners in the Deepings have always been adamant they wish to keep a professionally staffed library.
So far, there have been expressions of interest for 25 existing libraries to be run by community groups across the county, as well as seven communities wanting to create brand new facilities.
Coun Dilks said: “We are considering all our options and where to go from here but I am not going to lose Deepings Library.”
Lincolnshire County Council said under the plans, up to 40 smaller libraries will be run by their local communities, with the council continuing to staff 15 larger libraries.
Coun Nick Worth (Con), executive member for libraries, said: “We realise there were some people who wanted services to remain as they are, but with £2m less to spend that just wasn’t possible.
“However, I’m confident that we can now continue to provide a comprehensive library service across the county, but one that gives much better value for money.
“It is highly likely that we will end up with more static libraries than we started with and still save £1.7m. That seems like a good, win, win situation to me.”
Changes will also be made to mobile library services, with some villages losing their visits altogether.
Mobile libraries will visit tier three locations, including Thurlby and Northorpe, Baston, Billingborough, Colsterworth, Langtoft, Morton and Hanthorpe and South Witham, for two hours every four weeks.
The villages of Aslackby, Greatford, Haconby, Kirkby Underwood, Manthorpe, Swinstead and Witham-on-the-Hill, Tallington, Rippingale, Uffington and Corby Glen, which are in tier four, will have their existing mobile service replaced by home library visits.