Campaigners trying to save Deepings Library from closure have an unlikely ally in their fight - the leader of Lincolnshire County Council.
Coun Martin Hill denied he was being hypocritical in signing a petition drawn up by the Save Lincolnshire Libraries group which wants the council to drop plans to slash the number of county libraries it runs from 47 to just 15.
Deepings Library in Market Deeping, which campaigners say serves about 18,000 people, is under threat of closure along with libraries in Crowland, Donington and Holbeach in order to save the council almost £2 million over the next two years.
Community groups, businesses and schools are being invited to run of the libraries but Deepings residents had the chance to put the argument that their library should stay open directly to Coun Hill when he visited the Deepings Raft Race on Sunday.
Phil Dilks, county councillor for Deeping St James and a supporter of Save Lincolnshire Libraries, said: “I was delighted that Martin visited the Deepings on Sunday and that he was one of 500 people who signed our petition against withdrawing funding from Deepings Library.
“The fundamental problem with what Martin and the rest of the council is proposing is that they don’t realise how big the Deepings is and we deserve to keep our library because it serves a population of 18,000, with 38 per cent of its books going out to children.
“He’s clearly trying to face both ways on the issue but the Deepings people aren’t fooled by this and they know where Martin Hill stands.”
But Coun Hill said: “I’m very keen to keep Deepings Library open and work with interested parties to see how we can do that.
“But what can’t happen is for us to stay as we are because if we can’t save money from library services, then we have to find the money from somewhere else.”