County council bosses are under fire over a “secret” plan to build a new library at Market Deeping while threatening closure of the library at Wade House.
Market Deeping Library is among 30-plus libraries the council intends to shove into private hands – or close unless volunteers run them.
The Deepings are fighting to keep a council staffed library, but Market Deeping Town Council and Deeping St James Parish Council have submitted a last-minute, joint expression of interest in taking it on.
Market Deeping Mayor Xan Collins said: “We have been bullied into submitting an expression of interest by the county’s repeated threat of removing the library altogether and replacing it with a monthly visit from a mobile service. Such a service is not a real library service, it is just a bus full of books.”
Deeping St James county councillor Phil Dilks said it was “discovered by accident” on January 6 that the county had a secret feasibility study under way for the last nine months which would involve adding a library room to the district council owned community centre.
He said: “I didn’t know as the ward member and we’ve had public meetings with the county council and they didn’t mention the feasibility study.”
Coun Dilks says the county could have raised £18,000 a year towards running Market Deeping Library by renting out five rooms at Wade House, but hadn’t done so, and he believes the authority wants to sell off Wade House and use some of the cash to build at the community centre.
He is a member of Save Deepings Library Campaign and yesterday attended a meeting with Save Lincolnshire Libraries, which is taking legal advice on challenging the county’s decision to axe the libraries.
County councillor Nick Worth, executive member in charge of libraries, said he wasn’t aware of the feasibility study until a few weeks ago and it was part of a property review, completely separate from the libraries consultation.
He said: “There may be a bit of criticism for us about a slight lack of co-ordination.”
Coun Worth said the sale of Wade House is a possibility and rooms there hadn’t been rented out because there would be no disability access without “an awful lot of money being spent on it”.
He believes a library at the community centre would be cheaper to run, making it an easier option for volunteers.