Anger over Lincolnshire County Council’s library closure plans

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A controversial public consultation has been launched on radical plans to close libraries across the county and cut opening hours at many others.

Lincolnshire County Council wants to slash the number of staffed libraries from 47 to just 15.

A proposal to go to consultation has been unanimously approved by executive members - despite the council’s community and public safety scrutiny recommending it should be scrapped.

The committee thinks the council should go back to the drawing board and reconsider the proposals.

If plans are approved, Caistor will lose all its council staffed hours, currently 16.

Welton, Wragby and Keelby would convert to a mobile service of six to eight hours spread over four weeks.

And Market Rasen would see its opening hours cut from 28 to 25 per week.

Residents, disappointed at the council council’s latest move, have set up campaign group Save Our Libraries.

Spokesman Paul Stainthorp said: “It’s the market towns and villages that will be hit hardest by library cuts.

“You may be lucky enough to end up with only a half-hour bus ride to the nearest council-run library - the county council thinks this should be good enough for you.

“But for many people, the rising cost of travel means that a visit to the library will become an occasional luxury.”

The county council wants communities to consider extending opening hours by using volunteers.

Caistor Library, at the town’s Arts and Heritage Centre, is already run by volunteers for 38 hours a week.

Executive member for libraries coun Nick Worth said: “Smart phones, tablets, Kindles and new technology are changing the way we do things.

“Despite the need for change, our ambition is to keep all of Lincolnshire’s libraries open. However, this is only going to work with the support of our local communities.

“We will support residents and organisations that step forward and lend a hand. And by getting them more involved we think we can actually create a library service that’s better tailored to each community’s individual needs.

“Successful changes have already taken place at a number of libraries. There’s no reason why this won’t work elsewhere – providing that’s what local people want. A consultation will help us gauge whether that appetite is there.

The consultation runs until September 30. Go to lincolnshire.gov.uk/librariesconsultation, call 01522 782010.