Campaigners battling to save Lincolnshire’s libraries have given the thumbs down to proposals for a supermarket to run part of the service.
The Lincolnshire Co-operative has come forward and offered to ‘support’ six libraries, including Welton, that are under threat.
Their move could have important implications for local libraries affected by controversial proposals put forward by Lincolnshire County Council.
However, the Save Lincolnshire Libraries group claims there will be ‘little in common’ between the kind of facility the Co-op will offer and the professional service they are campaigning to save.
In a statement, the group said: “With regards to the Co-op’s seemingly altruistic offer, they may claim to have community interests as part of their raison d’etre but they most probably have ulterior motives.
“The Co-op will obviously receive increased footfall but most pertinently of all, they are being paid by the council to house those libraries.
“Volunteers and Co-op staff cannot run a professional library and nor can all services be retained such as computer access and local history - not to mention librarian job losses.
“We are not anti-volunteer but it’s crucial to remember that 170 skilled people stand to lose their jobs under these proposals.
“Volunteers and community groups can bring enthusiasm and passion to local libraries but professionally managed services ensure quality and equality for all library uses, including the most vulnerable people in society.”
The campaigners go on to list 11 questions regarding the Co-op’s plan.
The statement adds: “This will be presented as a major coup by the council when in fact it is a short-sighted and ultimately dangerous road to embark on. The council will say they have provided a solution and then wash their hands of it.”
Sir Edward Leigh, Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, has condemned Lincolnshire County Council’s plans for its network of libraries.
“We all understand that in these trying times councils have to make difficult decisions about the services they provide, but our libraries are an absolutely fundamental and irreplaceable part of our way of life here in Lincolnshire,” Sir Edward said in a statement.
“Yes, changes should be made to make our libraries more affordable and more sustainable in the long term, but these proposals put our entire library culture at risk.
Lincolnshire County Council must reconsider this immediately and keep our libraries open.”