Don't make this the final chapter for Lincolnshire libraries
Councillors refused to promise the authority would scrap controversial library closure plans during a heated debate at County Offices.
Labour members of Lincolnshire County Council were defeated by a close vote when they called for the council's executive committee to scrap the current proposals.
Instead, the Conservatives would only go as far as to say members would "take due account" of public feedback on the plans.
Politicians were embroiled in a two-hour debate over the future of libraries at a full meeting of the council on Friday, September 13.
The public gallery inside the authority's chamber was packed with campaigners and their banners – as they urged the controlling group to rethink plans to close 32 libraries across Lincolnshire.
The coalition, made up of Conservative, Liberal Democrat and three Independent councillors, announced the controversial proposals in June.
During a three-month public consultation since, more than 20,000 people have signed petitions throughout the county opposing the plans.
The county council says the cuts will save £2 million and its cabinet members will make a final decision on December 3. If passed, around 170 jobs will be lost as a result. The consultation period will end on September 30.
During the debate, Labour councillors forwarded a motion that stated: "This council asks the executive, when it comes to make a decision following the consultation, to rethink its plans in the light of all the feedback."
But the Conservatives forwarded an amended motion that stated the executive would "take due account" of the consultation.
The amended motion was supported by 39 members and opposed by 32.
The new leader of the opposition, and Labour chief John Hough, told leader of the council Martin Hill: "If you don't rethink after a consultation like this, what is the point? You are out of order."
In a long debate, most councillors had their say.
Labour's Phil Dilks, who has helped attract 9,000 signatures in a bid to save Deepings Library from closure, said: "I wonder who knows best – 9,000 people who have signed a petition or nine executive members who will make the decision?"
Marianne Overton, leader of the Independent Group on the authority, said: "Libraries are very much a front door service. We cannot close that door."
New Lincolnshire UKIP leader Chris Pain told the chamber: "I urge the libraries issue to come back to full council for a full vote.
"The Lincolnshire public is against these plans."
Four library petitions were also handed in to the council on Friday.
Almost 9,000 had signed Deepings Library Petition, while a Lincolnshire Libraries petition received almost 6,000.
A petition for Sutton-on-Sea Library obtained more than 1,800 signatures, while a Boultham Library equivalent received almost 600.
Speaking on behalf of Save Lincolnshire Libraries, campaigner Leah Warriner-Wood said: "We want all of our libraries to remain open and we do not want any cuts to library staff, jobs hours or working conditions."
Cabinet member for libraries at Lincolnshire County Council Nick Worth told the chamber: "I knew this would be tough. Everyone is passionate about their local library. And rightly so.
"The reason we have to make cuts is because of the national deficit Labour left us in."