Call for council to restore opening times

News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter
News from the Lincs Free Press and Spalding Guardian, spaldingtoday.co.uk, @LincsFreePress on Twitter

Campaigners battling to save Lincolnshire’s libraries are calling on the county council to reverse a cut in their opening hours.

A council cost-cutting decision to hand more than 30 libraries to volunteer operators – and keep just 15 in its own hands – was quashed in the High Court in July.

But Save Lincolnshire Libraries say libraries across the county have been operating with reduced opening times since April.

Campaign spokesman Julie Harrison wants to know why the council hasn’t restored full opening times using cash from last year’s £41million under spend.

She said: “This would be a clear indication that the council has recognised it made the wrong decision.

“For a year or so Coun Nick Worth (executive member for libraries) kept repeating that everything was fine and dandy about his plan. It wasn’t – and we need to be sure the council has understood that.”

But Coun Worth told the Spalding Guardian that library opening times are going to stay at the reduced level.

He said: “We have got £1.7million to save and the only way we can make the saving is by keeping the hours as they are now.

“We are already up to £800,000 in the current year that we have saved.”

The High Court quashed the council’s decision on libraries on the grounds that the consultation was unlawful and said it had failed to properly look at an expression of interest to run the service by a not for profit organisation, Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL).

The council begins a new public consultation next month and is having further talks with GLL.

Coun Worth revealed last week the library service could be put out to competition under the Community Right to Challenge Scheme, which means a private company could end up running all of Lincolnshire’s libraries.

Ms Harrison said: “Our main aim has always been to keep the libraries staffed and open.”