Authority’s £40m could save libraries

IN LONDON: Library campaigners from The Deepings recently took their fight to Parliament.
IN LONDON: Library campaigners from The Deepings recently took their fight to Parliament.
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Campaigner Phil Dilks is calling on the county council to spend part of a £40million windfall on saving the 30-plus libraries it plans to shelve.

The Deepings Labour county councillor is fighting to save his own local library from being shoved into private hands – and is part of a wider campaign group, Save Lincolnshire Libraries, which opposes cuts aimed at slashing nearly £2million from the council’s budget.

Coun Dilks said: “We have now discovered that the surplus collected in council tax this year by the county council, up to the end of March, is over £40million.

“They have collected £40million more than they needed to spend yet they are telling us they can’t keep the libraries open for the sake of £1.9million – it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the money that’s sloshing about.

“That £40 million would keep the libraries open for a generation on its own.

“They don’t know what they are going to do with the £40million, but what they have said is ‘we can’t put anything into the libraries’, which tells me this is not about saving money, it’s a political choice.”

Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill said: “Thanks to careful financial management, the council has a one-off underspend of £41 million remaining from last year’s budget.

“There are various competing pressures for which this money could be used and a decision will be taken by the full council in the autumn.

“However, we now know that whichever party forms the next Government, we will have to find further annual savings of around £90 million over the next few years.”

Meanwhile, a judicial review of the council’s decision to wash its hands of the libraries will be held in London, starting on July 8.

n Friends of Deeping Library are holding a fundraiser at The Deepings School, Deeping St James, on July 18. Tickets are available from the school reception, Market Deeping Library and the community centre.