Response by Lincolnshire political figures to the news (November 2015) that county council officers have recommended the Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) should be awarded the contract to take over Lincolnshire’s Library Service.
Cllr Phil Dilks
Lincolnshire Labour Shadow Exec Member for Libraries.
The recommendation to ask Greenwich Leisure to run what is left of our library service clearly vindicates more than two years of campaigning by Save Lincolnshire Libraries.
It also highlights the staggering incompetence by the Leader of Lincolnshire County Council and his Executive in pouring more than £1 million of public money down the drain and totally mishandling this whole sorry saga.
More than two years ago, Greenwich Leisure offered not only to run every library in Lincolnshire within the reduced budget available with no loss in staff or opening hours.
The council wrongly rejected GLL’s offer, forcing Save Lincolnshire Libraries to resort to Judicial Review which resulted in a High Court judgement that Lincolnshire County Council had acted unlawfully and full costs awarded against the council.
Rather than admit they were wrong, Cllrs Martin Hill, Nick Worth and the rest of the Executive buried their heads in the sand, attacked library campaigners and continued to rubbish Greenwich Leisure, claiming they had no confidence GLL could deliver what they promised.
The Conservative-run council have thrown more than £1 million of ratepayers money at their plan to sack dozens of dedicated library workers and leave thousands of residents without a local library following library closures which they claimed would never happen.
Finally, after the proper consideration forced by the High Court, officers have clearly concluded that they do have confidence in GLL’s ability to deliver and develop what is left of our library service and protect those employees who have not been made redundant.
Accepting GLL is a welcome move which would never have happened were it not for campaigners willing to stand up for libraries. It is just a pity that the conversion on the road to Damasus has come so late in the day and only after libraries in places like Skellingthorpe, Washingborough and Coningsby /Tattershall have already been closed down.
If Martin Hill and his Executive had listened to sense – and the people of Lincolnshire – more than two years ago, we could have saved a great deal of heartache by ‘volunteers’ dragooned into taking over their libraries, as well as a shed full of money that could have been used to boost the library service.
They should hang their heads in shame.
Cllr Adam Brookes
Liberal Democrat Town Councillor for Market Deeping
Whilst it is welcome that GLL are set to be awarded the contract to run the Lincolnshire library service following the tender process, it is deeply disappointing that an opportunity was missed to preserve previous service levels through the failure of Lincolnshire County Council to properly consider GLL’s original offer. With this decision there is finally the prospect of some much needed stability for both library staff and library users, but we must continue to ensure that the County Council delivers its promised support for libraries, particularly those now in the hands of volunteers.
Cllr Steve Palmer
Lincolnshire Independent spokesman on Libraries.
The issue of who runs the remaining statutory service and the now non-statutory mobile vans and supports the new community hubs is to my mind a side and secondary consideration.
My primary concern is the damage has already been done to the once totally comprehensive service that was a proud statutory provision under the protection of Lincolnshire County Council and what can an outside provider give to us that could not have been provided by a proactive, forward thinking council.
Will whoever is chosen restore the 160 or so Lincolnshire jobs that have been lost? Will it restore the lost libraries at Tatershall/Coningsby, Washingbourgh and Skelingthorpe? Will it restore faith in the executive that made the decision to make the library service a post code lottery, some with professional service others with no library or a volunteer one, but we all pay the same council tax for whatever service we have. Will it restore faith in Lincolnshire County Council consultations in the future? Will it get back the unknown amount of taxpayers money lost in fighting the Lincolnshire public who are so passionate about and use libraries?
The sad thing is if this had been handled differently, if people had been listened to, if there had been a proper consultation, the whole issue could have come out so much better.
The money that would have been saved, the anguish and anger that would have been avoided and the heartache of librarians losing jobs, no, more than jobs, chosen vocations, all could have been much different.
To me it enforces the belief of many Independents and particularly Lincolnshire Independents that party politics at local authority blinkers councils from giving the best decisions. Blindly following doctrine and the party line does no one any favours least of all the Libraries of Lincolnshire and having a few executive councillors of one group making unilateral decisions makes mockery of true democracy.
So good luck to the selected provider, you have some brilliant professional library staff remaining and some plucky and community focussed volunteers (God bless them) to lead out of the darkness and I sincerely hope you can do it, but the fact you have to do it, is the disgrace.
Former South Holland and the Deepings parliamentary candidate for Labour
After this Conservative-run County Council willfully decimated our library services as a direct result of the flesh and bone cuts spearheaded by the Conservative Government, it is heartening to see that our dedicated, grassroots Save Lincolnshire Libraries movement have been vindicated with the council’s begrudging acceptance of Greenwich Leisure’s proposal to to deliver and develop what is left of our library service.
The utter disregard for the people of Lincolnshire’s concerns for their much-cherished local libraries by Martin Hill and his Executive were founded on arrogant assumptions made about the library requirements of their young and old constituents. They appear to have assumed that nobody uses libraries because they don’t go themselves… I would argue that their failure to value books and information is what got them in trouble in the first place!
This entire wasteful exercise has become a prime example of the dangers of forceful, poorly considered, cavalier cuts to essential public services both locally and nationally.