Community libraries given the go-ahead

librariesCommunity groups have been given the go-ahead to run libraries as part of an overhaul of the county’s service.

Business plans and applications for grant funding for new community hubs – which include libraries – have been granted in 30 towns and villages across the county, including Holbeach, Pinchbeck, Donington and Crowland.

Groups which had applied to take over the libraries in Kirton and Sutton Bridge are among seven asked to develop their plans further to meet the criteria for funding. Another is Swineshead, where a community group has applied to set up a new library.

The new hubs will complement Lincolnshire County Council’s library service, which has undergone a review in a bid to save £1.9million.

A total of 15 core libraries, including Spalding, will remain under the control of the council, with others being taken over by community groups.

Coun Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, said: “Clearly a lot of work has gone into these proposals, and I’d like to thank all the groups for their ongoing efforts.

“We do need to await the outcome of the judicial review, but in the meantime we’ll continue to work with them to develop their plans further.

“In the interim, we’ll continue to run libraries at these locations at reduced hours, until the judicial review is complete and community groups are ready to run the new hubs.

“This will give the groups the time they need to lay firm foundations for the future.

“I’m confident that this will mean we’ll end up with even more local library provision, while also making substantial savings.”

The council has put plans to hand over the libraries on ice until a judicial review into the plans have been considered at London’s High Court on July 8 and 9.

The review was granted after campaigner Simon Draper argued that the consultation process followed by the council over the library changes was possibly illegal as a decision had already been taken, as well as the failure to deal with harm caused to people under the Equalities Act and the failure of the council’s plan to provide a comprehensive public library service under the Libraries Act.

The review and resulting decision to delay the closures until its outcome has been welcomed by campaigners.

Julie Harrison, spokesman for Save Lincolnshire Libraries, said: “The sooner the court decided that the county council acted illegally and should be providing a comprehensive library service across the whole county, the better.

“It is still not too late for the council to change its mind and stop its mindless destruction of the library service.”

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