‘These changes will betray the people of Lincolnshire’ - Louth councillors slam Lincolnshire library revamp

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Plans to revamp Lincolnshire’s library services have been slammed by councillors in Louth, who feel the people in the county will be ‘betrayed’ by the changes.

Members of Louth Town Council debated the proposals, which have been put forward to consultation by Lincolnshire County Council, at their meeting on Tuesday night.

Although Louth Library will be unaffected, nearby Sutton and Sea and Alford libraries would close unless volunteers take them on, and mobile library services across the area would nearly all be reduced.

The county council believe the changes will save them £2 million in the long run, with 32 of the 47 libraries in Lincolnshire being closed unless volunteers take them on.

Coun Roger Featherstone presented a dossier of information to the council, in which he claimed savings could be made elsewhere by the county council.

Holding up a letter to the town council from the county authority outlining how the plans will affect Louth, he said: “There’s no indication of the devastation that’s going to be caused by this, it’s going to be a disaster for the people of Lincolnshire.

“Most parish councils will receive a very different letter, 30 (sic 32) libraries are set to close and many areas will lose their library stocks.

“The council say 82 per cent of people don’t use libraries, but what about the other 18 per cent? These people don’t deserve to be ignored.

“It’s like saying not everybody uses schools so lets close them.”

LCC’s executive unanimously voted to press ahead with the consultation on Tuesday, despite a community and public safety scrutiny committee urging them to take the plans back to the drawing board.

But a report to members branded the current library service as ‘inefficient’ because 96 per cent of people in the county live within 30 minutes’ drive of a static library.

Coun Featherstone described the research into the plans as a ‘desktop exercise by some bureaucrat’.

“The council saying 30 minutes travel to a library is ok is not acceptable. The public transport in Lincolnshire is non-existent.

“Those who will be most affected will be the most vulnerable, these changes will betray the people of Lincolnshire.”

Coun Laura Stephenson said she was concerned that the need for library computers would increase under the new Universal Credit System.

Coun Fran Treanor was in agreement with Coun Featherstone.

“The old phrase is ‘use it or lose it’,” he said.

“I’m so please that Louth Library is safe, most of the computers are always busy.

“What damages libraries is the amount of books on sale in supermarkets, it almost detracts from the library itself.”

For further details on the proposals and to take part in the consultation, please visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/librariesconsultation.

Alternatively, call 01522 782010. or pick up a copy of the questionnaire in a library.

The consultation runs until Monday 30 September 2013.