Campaigners behind the Save Lincolnshire Libraries march this Saturday were amazed to hear County Councillor Nick Worth on BBC Radio Lincolnshire (Monday September 23) describe the turnout – some 400 people – as “disappointing”.
“We are a small campaign group of volunteers, dotted across the county, and we’re a broad cross section of people,” explained Market Rasen based campaigner and social media trainer Angela Montague. “However, we’ve pulled together and generated 20, 000 petition signatures and rallied 400 people to march in Lincoln from across the county. We also gathered all the regional press to cover this event. This is clearly an achievement. The campaign is supported by a significant number of Lincolnshire people from a wide political spectrum, including councillors of every party. It’s baffling and frankly offensive that Nick Worth tries to belittle constituents in this way.”
In what is now the final days of the consultation on the future of Lincolnshire Libraries, campaigners say they wish to stay focused on the heart of the issue: the voices of the people of Lincolnshire. Fortunately, the campaign does have almost 900 of these voices on record, but up until now they have not been very easy to find. The group has now published these comments in full on their blog, in a document that (if printed) would cover 100 A4 pages. The web address for this is: https://savelincslibraries.org.uk/nine-hundred-comments/
For those residents without access to the internet, campaigners invite them to view the blog at their local library, where a trained member of staff will help them do this.
North Hykeham campaigner Leah Warriner-Wood said: “If you care about libraries or the views of Lincolnshire people, you should take time to read this. If you are one of the nine people making the decision on our libraries – the council executive – you have a duty to read it.”
Lincolnshire author William Hussey added: “We hope the county council will also take these pleas for ‘no cuts’ into account in its consultation process. We feel the official consultation is doing a very poor job of letting Lincolnshire people have their say. The council’s questionnaire does not ask if people want ‘no change’ to their library service. It does not ask for ‘blue sky thinking’ on libraries either, something Michael Morpurgo and Melvyn Bragg want to see in Lincolnshire. And at consultation meetings our campaigners (and the Lincolnshire Echo) report the majority of time was swallowed up by council presentations, leaving little chance for the public to speak. It seems to us the official consultation is a convoluted way to deliver the ultimatum: the library service will lose 15 out of 44 static libraries, mobile stops will be cut by almost 70% and 170 trained staff will no longer be needed. Then the consultation offers this cold comfort: If volunteers step forward a library service can be provided. But we believe such volunteer run libraries will be a shadow of a public library managed by trained staff.”
The source of the comments is the campaign’s county wide online petition – which also lists the aims of the group – can be found with this link: Save Lincolnshire Libraries County Petition. Almost 3000 people have signed this particular petition. This joins with thousands more who have signed the paper version along with other petitions to save individual libraries like Deepings, Nettleham and Sutton on Sea.
Nettleham campaigner Emily Evison explained how these 100 pages are just a sample of public opinion. “Not everyone leaves a comment, and these are comments on just one petition, so these heartfelt words we present here are the tip of the iceberg. But our message to the nine councillors deciding the future of the libraries is: if the ‘tip’ is 878 comments spanning 100 A4 pages, how big is the iceberg?”
Most comments are from Lincolnshire people, some are from people who grew up in Lincolnshire. A few are from library supporters further afield, including Hollywood actress Minnie Driver.