23,000 sign petitions to save libraries

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Campaigners delighted by confirmation that 23,000 people signed petitions opposing the closure of Lincolnshire’s libraries are unlikely to see a new chapter open in negotiations.

A report by Sheffield Hallam University makes it a matter of public record that the proposed cuts attracted almost certainly the largest petition figure of its kind in the UK.

Ian Anstice, who catalogues all UK public library news on his website Public Library News, said: “The people of Lincolnshire have spoken loud and clear about how they feel about public libraries and the only way that the councillors are not hearing them is if they are deliberately being deaf.”

However, Nick Worth, Lincolnshire County Council’s executive member for libraries, said the university’s report also highlighted that only 8,000 individuals responded to the consultation – just one per cent of the population.

He said: “We had 42 expressions of interest from groups, which shows there’s a lot of will from the community to take on their libraries.

”Out of 30 libraries in tier three that could be closed, 25 groups have come forward. This means there will be fewer mobile libraries.”

Paul Bywater, a volunteer with the group that has expressed an interest in taking over Crowland Library, said: “Our steering group has not become involved in the politics or mechanics of the situation and have purely concentrated on ensuring that there is a Plan B available should the county council close the library in its present form.

“Other groups and individuals are challenging the closure and should they be successful in saving the Crowland Library and the staff, we shall be delighted.”

The council’s report on library cuts will be made public on November 22 and councillors will make their decision final on December 3.