Council bans libraries closure petitions
Public petitions against plans to cut the county’s library service will not be allowed inside library buildings.
Lincolnshire County Council says it will stop campaigners from placing paper petitions in libraries for people to sign.
It comes as councillors confirmed that radical plans to shut 32 libraries across Lincolnshire will go to public consultation.
The coalition-led authority’s cabinet members decided to press ahead with the controversial cost-cutting plans – advice from an authority watchdog in the process.
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Last week, members of the communities scrutiny committee rejected the council’s proposals to close sites and cut 170 jobs.
They also opposed any consultation period with the public.
Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, said: “Clearly, there are people who will want to set up petitions opposing changes to the library service and they are free to do so.
“The reason for not allowing petitions in our libraries is that petitions are premature as no decisions have been made on the future of the library service.”
Head of libraries and heritage at Lincolnshire County Council Jonathan Platt says people should voice their concerns through the authority’s managed questionnaire instead.
He said: “I do not want petitions put into libraries.
“The public can voice their views through the questionnaire which is available online and in paper form in the libraries themselves.
The council says the consultation exercise has been launched to decide how many libraries are needed in the county – and how many people will be willing to run them as volunteers.
At present, only 15 of 47 county council-managed libraries would survive. And only 10 of them would be open on a full-time basis.
Councillor Worth added: “This is not about closing libraries.
“We want to keep them open. But we need volunteers to come forward and run them.
“Smart phones, tablets, Kindles and new technology are changing the way we do things.”
The consultation will run until Monday, September 30.
The proposals are part of the council’s aim to save £2 million from the libraries and heritage sector.
Leader of the opposition at county offices Chris Pain said: “UKIP councillors feel the authority has a statutory duty to provide a library service that is both efficient and cost effective.
“These public consultation proposals are not fit for purpose.
“The fact the executive has pushed through the proposals despite the communities scrutiny committee rejecting them, just means our council’s scrutiny committees are just for show.”
The UKIP leader added: “These cuts come at a time when, nationally we spend £7.8 billion each year to different countries abroad.”
So far, more than 260 people have signed an online petition against the cuts.
The petition has been set up on website www.change.org by library user Jasmin Poxton.