Lincolnshire County Council’s executive today (Tuesday) has decided to close the book on public opposition and press ahead with plans to cut £2million from library services.
The decision will see the number of council-run libraries drop from 47 to just 15.
But the council is likely to put these libraries out to tender after an expression of interest from not-for-profit group Greenwich Leisure Limited during the consultation process.
The council will continue to run the existing libraries in these areas until 30 September 2015 giving volunteers plenty of time to lay firm foundations for the new community hubs to be developed.
Coun Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, said: “The way in which libraries are used is changing, not just in Lincolnshire, but across the country, and it’s important we adapt with the times.
“We are excited by the potential for community development of the new-look community hubs, and I look forward to working with those that have come forward.
“Because of the challenge by GLL, we will also have to look at potentially outsourcing the service that would otherwise be delivered by the council.
“However, I’m confident that, whatever the ultimate outcome, not only will we continue to provide a comprehensive library service across the county, but it will be one that gives much better value for money.”
After two public consultations, several protests, numerous meetings and some key alternative library proposals being put forward, the council decided to continue with cutting these services so others areas like frontline services would not suffer in the cuts.
The council first unveiled plans to cut £1.9m from its library budget in June 2013 and the library proposals have remained largely unchanged since then, despite a judicial review that was brought forward by campaigners in July last year, which forced the council to hold a second public consultation.
The decision is set to be a huge disappointment for campaigners who have been in a non-stop battle to try to overthrow the decision and Save Lincolnshire Libraries.
Because of the work involved in a competitive procurement, it is likely to take until the end of 2015 before a final decision is reached on who will run the service.
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