December D-day date for Lincs library plans

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Campaigners battling to stop a major cull of library services in Lincolnshire will have to wait until December to see if they have been successful.

Lincolnshire County Council’s executive committee - comprised of 12 councillors - will make a final decision on December 3.

The county council wants to close 32 of 47 libraries to save £2m for its budget.

A public consultation closed at the end of last month. Thousands of people took part with the vast majority thought to be against the cuts.

A team of experts from Sheffield University has been called in to scrutinise the responses.

The county council’s scrutiny committee will meet on December 2 to debate any recommendations - with the final decision due 24 hours later.

Caistor and Keelby could be particularly hard hit, if the council presses ahead with its original plan. Under the proposals, the opening times at Keelby’s library would be reduced by 8 hours a week to just two hours and Caistor would see its service withdrawn and replaced with a mobile library.

The library in Market Rasen would see its hours cut by just three hours, from 28 to 25 a week.

Unless volunteers come forward the library in Wragby could close.

In addition, there are fears cuts to the mobile library service could have a major impact on villages.

There has been widespread opposition to the council’s plans with more than 5,000 people signing a petition set up by a campaign group.

A spokesman for the group said: “We believe we have done everything we can.”

Coun Nick Worth, whose portfolio includes libraries, promised the public’s views would be taken on board before the decision is made.

Among these views are Ruth Dawson’s from Caistor who commented: “I am a regular user of the library in Caistor and realise the need for these establishments in rural communities.

“They are an essential part of many people’s life, enabling them to obtain books, use computers, get advice, etc.”

Jillian James, also from Caistor added: “We must endeavour to keep all community services open, closing them only makes our societies disintegrate and become isolated.”

Lincolnshire County Council says that only a small percentage of residents still use the library and member numbers and the rate of loans is falling year on year.