At their meeting on Tuesday December 1st, Lincolnshire County Council’s Executive Committee will be deciding on whether to appoint Greenwich Leisure to run the County Council Library service.
More than two long years ago the County Council set up a consultation, basically asking local people to keep just 15 libraries for the County Council to run and to close approximately 40 other libraries unless volunteers could be found to take them over.
Save Lincolnshire Libraries (SLL) – a group of Lincolnshire people who love books and appreciate the full value of public libraries came together.
Supported by thousands of people across the county they campaigned against the plan. Nonetheless, the County Council decided in December 2013 to carry out its plan. Following this Simon Draper took the Council to Judicial Review, supported by SLL.
The High Court quashed the decision of the County Council Executive Committee declaring the consultation to be unlawful, and that the council would need to go back to Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL), a not for profit organisation, to properly consider their interest in running the service which the Council had failed to do first time round.
The County Council Executive then found it was necessary to go out to tender following the continuing interest from GLL. However, despite the High Court decision and the views of people in Lincolnshire, they decided not to go out to tender for the whole service but only for the 15 libraries they had first thought of. Following a second Judicial Review the Council was allowed to continue down this path. Tuesday’s decision is about whether to ask GLL to run this reduced service.
“From the beginning the objective of Save Lincolnshire Libraries has been to maintain libraries in Lincolnshire and to seek an improved library service. From the beginning it has been clear that the only objective of the Executive Committee was to run as small a library service as they could get away with legally, with the minimum of opening hours and service,” said John Hough, on behalf of Save Lincolnshire Libraries.
“We are deeply disappointed that the Council refused to consider properly GLL’s bid to run the whole library service and to maintain the staff. They rubbished GLL’s figures, said no one wanted libraries anymore and communities should be forced to run their libraries whether they wanted to or not. So far three libraries have been closed and there may be more in the future.”
“Nonetheless the decision to be made on Tuesday does represent a chance to start the rebuilding of the library service in Lincolnshire. We should never have had to spend over two and a half years to get to the point where an organisation committed and enthusiastic about libraries could finally have an opportunity to try and deliver the kind of library service that people in Lincolnshire want and deserve.”
“Save Lincolnshire Libraries will continue to campaign for and press for better library services in Lincolnshire. This is hopefully the beginning of a better future for libraries. It is a scandal that it has been at the cost of the jobs of many hardworking and devoted librarians which could have been saved if GLL had been allowed to run the whole service as they had originally offered to do.”
Please also read this recent post, where four local political figures voice their anger at the situation.