Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh has condemned Lincolnshire County Council’s plans for the county’s network of libraries.
The authority is looking to reduce the number of libraries under its control from 47 to 15, in a bid to save £2 million.
It hopes that local communities will step in to take over the running of some libraries in rural locations.
“The proposed plan for Lincolnshire’s libraries is completely unacceptable,” said Sir Edward.
“We all understand that in these trying times councils have to make difficult decisions about the services they provide, but our libraries are an absolutely fundamental and irreplaceable part of our way of life here in Lincolnshire.”
“People young and old and from all walks of life find in our libraries a second home and a gateway to an entire world of information and learning.”
“Yes, changes should be made to make our libraries more affordable and more sustainable in the long term, but these proposals put our entire library culture at risk.”
“Lincolnshire County Council must reconsider this immediately and keep our libraries open,” he added.
In the latest twist in the story, the Lincolnshire Co-operative has offered to join forces with the council to keep six of the libraries open.
Councillor Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, said the authority wanted to keep all of Lincolnshire’s libraries open.
He continued: “But to do that we need to find a new way of doing things. We welcome the Co-op’s offer of support, and we’ll be speaking to them about what help they can provide.”
“We’ve already seen the success of our partnership approach in Waddington, which has brought the dual benefits of increased usage and lower running costs. Hopefully, this can be replicated at these other libraries.”
“So far, we’ve been approached by 21 communities, who are interested in becoming involved in running local library services.”
“I’m sure that, if everyone works together, we can create a service that’s more efficient, more affordable and better tailored to local needs,” he added.
The Co-op’s offer will now be considered by the council as part of the on-going libraries consultation.
People have until 30th September to let the council know their views on the best way forward for the library service.
They can do this by filling in the online questionnaire at www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/librariesconsultation.
A hard copy of the questionnaire is also available at all local libraries or by calling the customer service centre on 01522 782010.
What do you think of the county council’s plans? Write to us at Gainsborough Standard, Unit 1B, Marshall’s Yard, Beaumont Street, Gainsborough, DN21 2NA.