New challenge to library cuts

A second judicial review into proposed cuts to Lincolnshire libraries could be on the cards.

Campaigners have asked the High Court to review Lincolnshire County Council’s new plans to streamline libraries in a bid to save £2m.

In February, the council’s executive agreed proposals for a new-look service in light of changes in the way libraries are used and the authority’s substantially reduced budget.

This decision has been formally challenged, meaning an initial assessment will now take place to decide whether a full judicial review is required.

Tony McGinty, from Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We are very disappointed to receive another challenge.

“The council has yet to receive the details, but will be preparing the strongest possible defence once it has done so.

“We’ve worked hard to address all the issues raised in last year’s judicial review, and carried out additional consultation before making a fresh decision.

“And importantly, the court ruled our proposed model would meet our legal duties, a finding recently endorsed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

“We can’t ignore the fact that by the end of this decade the council’s overall budget will have been almost halved.

“We believe it’s only fair that the library service plays its part in finding the necessary savings.

“However, under our proposals, we can do this in a way that both saves money and creates a more modern and appropriate service.”

The proposals are to retain ten libraries across Lincolnshire, 45 hours per week, keep five running 18 hours per week and retain the others only if community groups step forward to run them.

The same proposals were approved by the council in 2013, but after a successful High Court challenge the council was told more consultation was needed, which it says has now been done.

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