Still time for county avoid massive legal bill

County councillor Phil Dilks (left) pictured outside Big Ben when Save Deepings Library campaigners took their cause to London.
County councillor Phil Dilks (left) pictured outside Big Ben when Save Deepings Library campaigners took their cause to London.

More cross-party talks have been held this week in a bid to keep a public library in Market Deeping.

But the talks were overshadowed by news that Lincolnshire County Council faces the prospect of a second judicial review into its bid to slash £2million from the library service by shoving 30 libraries – including Deeping library – into the hands of volunteers.

There’s still time to stop this nonsense – the last judicial review cost the county council over £100,000.

County councillor Phil Dilks

County councillor Phil Dilks, Labour’s shadow executive member for libraries, attended Wednesday’s talks with Conservative Government minister John Hayes and says there’s all-party support to find a solution so that Deeping keeps a public library.

Details of the plan – first discussed in Downing Street – have not been made public.

Coun Dilks said: “We are hopeful that things are moving on.”

But he says it’s time the county council pulled back from the brink otherwise it could be landed with another massive legal bill with the judicial review challenge from Save Lincolnshire Libraries.

He said: “There’s still time to stop this nonsense – the last judicial review cost the county council over £100,000. If we are supposed to be saving money, let’s save some money. Let’s get round a table and talk some sense and find some viable solutions for libraries.”

Tony McGinty, from the county council, said: “We are very disappointed to receive another challenge. The council has yet to receive the details, but will be preparing the strongest possible defence once it has done so.

“We’ve worked hard to address all the issues raised in the last year’s judicial review, and carried out additional consultation before making a fresh decision. And importantly, the court ruled our proposed model would meet our legal duties, a finding recently endorsed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

“We can’t ignore the fact that by the end of this decade the council’s overall budget will have been almost halved.

“We believe it’s only fair that the library service plays its part in finding the necessary savings.

“However, under our proposals, we can do this in a way that both saves money and creates a more modern and appropriate service.”