Libraries under threat from county council

LAST CHAPTER?: The county council aims to stop running Holbeach Library. DSC_8122
LAST CHAPTER?: The county council aims to stop running Holbeach Library. DSC_8122
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Libraries in Holbeach, Crowland and Donington face the axe in county council spending cuts unless volunteers or companies step forward to run them.

Lincolnshire County Council is slashing libraries under its control from 47 to 15 in a bid to save £2million.

Spalding Library is one of ten “Tier 1” libraries that will be kept by the council and open up to 50 hours a week.

Libraries in Crowland and Long Sutton are safe too in “Tier 2”, but it’s not clear what their opening hours will be.

The cutbacks will involve job losses but Coun Nick Worth, executive councillor with responsibility for libraries, says the number of jobs going will depend on the types of organisations taking over the libraries.

He said 70 per cent of the library service budget is made up of staffing costs.

Coun Worth said: “We are not closing any of them. We will be inviting communities to run them and providing comprehensive support if they want to do it.”

Sutton Bridge has a successful volunteer library and there are similar libraries running in Waddington and Saxilby near Lincoln.

Coun Worth says there are also some libraries in the county run by the Co-op.

He’s had a couple of people phone him who are interested in running Holbeach Library, but says it’s too early so say what will happen there.

Holbeach Parish Council chairman Terry Harrington said yesterday he was surprised and disappointed by the plan.

“I think it’s a retrograde step,” he said. “I know that people have been very happy with the library – it has been very well patronised.”

A 90 day consultation on the proposals is expected to start on July 3.

Groups running libraries would be offered £5,167 a year towards costs, up to 4,000 books and a one-off payment of £15,000 for building works or equipment. Mobile libraries will visit once a fortnight if groups don’t come forward to run the services.