Libraries in Lincolnshire – the story so far
- February 1914 Lincoln Central Library opened
- 1964 Libraries Act states that “It shall be the duty of every library authority to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof”
- In June 2013, Lincolnshire County Council announced a consultation exercise about the future of the library service. They planned to save £2 million by drastically reducing the library service. This consultation included- a series of meetings round the county BUT they were not held where libraries were shutting, they were held at odd times, people had to apply to attend and they were facilitated round – table discussions at which it was made clear that the conversation was to be about the best way of carrying out the plan and not the plan itself – a consultation document which stated that people could not comment on the planned closures. Respondents were invited to comment on the best way to carry out the Council’s plan.
What the council was consulting on was the implementation of their plan
• to close 30 libraries unless volunteers could be found to run them
• to withdraw the mobile service from over 100 communities
• to cut opening hours for nearly all the remaining 15 libraries.
And NOT on the plan itself.
What the Council’s plan means is
• the loss of 170 jobs
• no service for small and isolated villages
• a much reduced mobile service with over 100 stops disappearing
• volunteers being expected to run 30 libraries, with only extremely limited professional input
• cuts in hours for nearly all the remaining libraries, including reducing the only library left in the university city of Lincoln to 50 hours a week.
The council’s own Scrutiny Commitee rejected the proposals
On Wednesday, 26th June, the Community and Public Safety Scrutiny Committee, made up of 11 Lincolnshire county councillors, rejected the council’s proposal for changes to library provision in Lincolnshire. Read more here: Scrutiny committee reject Lincolnshire County Council proposal
How have Lincolnshire people reacted?
• Save Lincolnshire Libraries was formed – a loose coalition of people who love their libraries and believe in the public provision of them
• many communities formed protest groups of their own
• large numbers joined a protest march through Lincoln in September. See this page for massive press coverage of this
• a series of public meetings organised by campaigners took place across the county and the feedback was definitely that people want to keep their libraries as they are
• more than 23,000 people signed petitions – these were collated and presented to LCC in December
• nearly 1000 people explained how they use and value their libraries on the internet petition. These have been turned into a book ‘The Tip of the Iceberg’ which is being presented to the Prime Minister today [ 8th April 2014] – these comments represent how people across the county feel about their libraries. Read these comments on this page: https://savelincslibraries.org.uk/nine-hundred-comments/
• people protested outside the council offices on several occasions and spoke in council meetings about their opposition to the plan (councillors and public)
• people were angry and frustrated by not being able to discuss alternatives to cuts
• and because the council’s constitution meant that the decision was taken by only 9 councillors the fight was taken to the heart of government by a busload of Lincolnshire people. Go to this page to find out about this hugely successful event: https://savelincslibraries.org.uk/2014/04/10/lobby4libraries-the-big-update/.
Shadow Minister for Libraries gives full support and calls for intervention
As a result of the #Lobby4Libraries event, Helen Goodman MP, shadow minister for libraries, visited Lincoln shortly afterwards to show her support for libraries and the campaign. Read about this visit here: https://savelincslibraries.org.uk/2014/04/15/video-helen-goodman-mp-shadow-minister-for-libraries-visits-lincolnshire/
Letter to the Secretary of State calling for Intervention
A letter has been written to the Secretary of State by campaigner Maurice Nauta (former senior manager in our library service), one to Maria Miller and another to her replacement Sajid Javid. You can read both letters here https://savelincslibraries.org.uk/lincolnshire-libraries-secretary-of-state-letter/
And from outside Lincolnshire…
Melvyn Bragg, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Ian Rankin, Michael Morpurgo, Margaret Attwood, Malorie Blackman (Children’s Laureate), Michael Rosen (former Children’s Laureate) and William Hussey are among many authors who have expressed support for the campaign (from detailed messages of support to RTs on Twitter) to keep our libraries as they are, as has actor Minnie Driver. They are joined by national library campaigner groups such as Voices for the Library and The Library Campaign who have also shown strong support for the Lincolnshire campaign.
How has Lincolnshire County Council indicated that it is listening?
On 3/12/13, the Executive Committee, consisting of 9 councillors, voted their plan through, with some small adjustments. The plan is currently being implemented. Find out about these nine councillors on this page: https://savelincslibraries.org.uk/whos-responsible/
Judicial Review: July 8-9th
A local resident has instigated a Judicial Review. A judge has agreed that this should be heard in the High Court on all four counts. This will take place July 8-9th.
The grounds for Judicial Review are:
• the decision had been made before the consultation
• not enough consideration was given to the needs of vulnerable people who would be affected by this decision
• not enough consideration was given to the bid to run some libraries by Greenwich Leisure
• the future library service would not be ‘comprehensive and efficient’ as required by the 1964 Act of Parliament.
JULY 2014 WIN ON TWO COUNTS IN THE HIGH COURT!
“When this legal challenge was launched we called on Lincolnshire County Council to think again, and seriously re-consider the cuts they had proposed. They ignored my client, dismissed his claims that the consultation was flawed, and ignored the fact that the cuts could be avoided. The Court has listened and ruled that Lincolnshire County Council’s proposals, which would have decimated the library service and cost hundreds of jobs, were wrong as a matter of law.” Paul Heron, Solicitor, Public Interest Lawyers.
Our blog post on the outcome Win on Two Counts!
JANUARY 2015 ASTONISHING MISUSE OF PUBLIC MONEY AND POLITICAL POWER
Lincolnshire County Council has published its plans to implement its unlawful decision in December 2013 to close thirty libraries unless volunteers take them over. This not only ignores the High Court judgement in July last year that quashed this decision but also the Localism Act which gives charities and social enterprises opportunities to run local services.
A number of good ideas have come forward both before and after 3rd December 2013 on how the libraries can be better run, can have an improved book supply, can be better value for Lincolnshire and at the same time ensure that libraries remain open with professional and paid staff supported by volunteers.
All of these have been ignored by the County Council. The six months since the decision in the High Court to quash the Council Decision to close 30 Libraries has been completely misused by the Council. Huge amounts of officer time and the efforts of organisations like SLL and other individuals, who genuinely wanted to improve things, have been completely wasted.
What the political administration has done is to go through the motions of appearing to consider alternatives while trying to find a way to implement its destructive decision – which was taken before the whole consultation farce started in June 2013.
The leading politicians have deceived the people of Lincolnshire into thinking that they could influence anything. They have wasted huge amounts of public money trying to cover their tracks. It has been an astonishing misuse of political power.
Not only that, to carry on with cutting the library service would be a totally false economy with an adverse effect on other aspects of the council’s remit. Education standards will fall and older people will find their quality of life reduced which will impact on health and social care. Libraries are a golden thread that runs through the life of the whole community.
When are we going to have politicians in charge in Lincolnshire who are prepared to stand up for ordinary people and the public services that they value?
Why can’t the current administration hear what thousands of people across the county have been saying for 18 months now – that actually they value libraries and want them run by professional and paid staff for the benefit of local people?
Spokesperson for SLL, Julie Harrison says, “Throughout this process, SLL has always highlighted the value of public libraries.
As one leading politician, President Obama, has said ‘More than a building that houses books and data, the library has always been a window to a larger world – a place we’ve always come to discover big ideas and profound concepts…… And so the moment we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold into a library, we’ve changed their lives forever and for the better.’
Save Lincolnshire Libraries will continue to fight for a library service run by professional and paid staff, with the support of volunteers, across the county.”
Speaking on BBC Radio Lincolnshire (17.7.2014) Prime Minister David Cameron said: “One of the great things in our democracy is that governments have to act under the law and respond to public opinion and pressure – and that’s what is happening in Lincolnshire.” This campaign will continue to make this happen. Source http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-28343153
Save Lincolnshire Libraries: Original Objectives
STOP THE CUTS
Lincolnshire County Council is proposing to slash our Library Services
LCC plan to close all but 15 of our library buildings
They want to slash the hours of the remaining libraries
Mobile library stops will reduce from 400 communities to only 126
Buildings will be sold off. These will be lost forever
170 skilled library jobs will be lost
No library is safe
SaveLincsLibraries want libraries publicly funded and operated
They offer a safe place in which to read, study or go online
They offer a stimulating environment to encourage children to read
They are vital hubs of information for the local community
Our library buildings are community assets which cannot be replaced
Who are we?
Save Lincolnshire Libraries is a campaign group from across Lincolnshire Communities
What do we think?
We SAY NO to all cuts to our vital library services.
Our most vulnerable people will be most affected by the proposals
What are we doing?
- We are campaigning across our county to protect Lincolnshire’s vital library
- We are gathering petition signatures to oppose these cuts
- We are holding public meetings and protests; no pre-booking required!
- We are working with councillors, trade unions, organisations and individuals
What can you do?
- Join your library and use your library service
- Sign our petition available online at this link: County Wide Petition
- Promote the petition with friends, family, work colleagues through social media
- Attend local public meetings held by campaigners and by Lincolnshire County
- Collect petition signatures, call 01476 574748 for paper copies
- Complete the County Council Consultation Document (deadline Sept 30th) http://apps.lincolnshire.gov.uk/snapsurveys/llc/lincolnshire_libraries_consultation.htm
- Write to your County Councillor and County Council Cabinet
- Follow us on Twitter @savelincslibs
- Join our Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/savelincslibraries
The Cabinet members are:-
Martin Hill (Cons), Patricia Bradwell (Cons), Colin Davie (Cons), Peter Robinson (Cons),
Richard Davies (Cons), Sue Woolley (Cons), Barry Young (Cons), Nick Worth (Cons) Reg Shore (Lib Dem)
Save Lincolnshire Libraries: in detail
Lincolnshire County Council are proposing massive cuts to public library services in Lincolnshire. The Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign has been set up to protest against these destructive changes, and to make the case for public libraries in the county.
The council want to remove funding from of all but 15 of the county’s 44 public libraries, and to cut 170 library jobs. If they get their way, huge areas of Lincolnshire will be left without a professionally-run library service.
Save Lincolnshire Libraries say:
“The county council say they’ll run a public consultation in July, to ‘gauge the appetite’ for cuts to public libraries. We don’t think the people of Lincolnshire have any ‘appetite’ to lose their valued local library, and we’ll continue to campaign against these destructive cuts to public services.”
Under the council’s plan:
- 29 libraries will close unless volunteers agree to run them for free.
- Library opening hours will be reduced even in larger towns like Horncastle and Market Rasen.
- Hundreds of places in Lincolnshire could lose their regular visits from the mobile library.
- School library budgets will be cut to zero.
- PC access in libraries will be reduced, just as more and more people need to access services online.
Like all councils, Lincolnshire has a statutory obligation to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” library service (Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964). We believe that these cuts would leave the county without a comprehensive service, and that the most deprived rural & coastal areas of Lincs would be hardest hit.
Libraries provide access to all sorts of information and support – it’s not just books! Book loans may have decreased from their peak, but people are still visiting and using libraries. 17 people every second use library services in the UK.
Libraries are particularly important to families with young children, pensioners, jobseekers, and foreign migrants learning English so that they can integrate into British society. There are particular problems in Lincolnshire with “hidden” poverty and social exclusion in isolated rural & coastal areas. Library cuts will only make this situation worse.
Increasingly, people can only access services online (e.g. job applications, government information and services) – there’s no other way to get this information if you’re one of the ten million people in the UK without access to the internet at home.
We’re not anti-volunteering! Volunteers and community groups can bring enthusiasm and passion to local libraries, but professionally-managed services ensure quality and equality for all library users, including the most vulnerable people in society.