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Cuts to library service to be reviewed following High Court ruling

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Controversial cuts to Lincolnshire’s library service will need to be reviewed following a High Court ruling.

Following a two-day hearing last week, the court set aside Lincolnshire County Council’s original decision meaning that proposals will need to be considered again by the authority’s executive after an additional period of consultation.

The move, which were designed to save the council £2m, would have seen 30 libraries close if volunteers could not be found to run them, including numerous in the Boston, Sleaford and Skegness areas.

Lincoln resident Simon Draper had launched a High Court challenge against the changes.

Speaking after the ruling, he said: “We are simply over the moon.”

He added: “I want to thank the people of Lincolnshire for standing with me against the council in this, we really are not to be walked over!”

Richard Wills, executive director at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We are, of course, disappointed with the decision.

“We believe that our proposals would have increased library provision in the county, while also making substantial savings, meaning taxpayers would be getting a much better deal.

“The judge agreed there was a need to make savings, that our proposals would meet our statutory duties and that we’d carefully considered the impact on all residents.

“However, his decision means we will now need to undertake further consultation and re-examine the proposal from Greenwich Leisure Ltd.

“Ironically, although we must consider that proposal as a community offer to take over the council’s services under the Localism Act, it could lead to the library service being put out to procurement and outsourced to a commercial organisation.

“We will now address the points raised by the judge and remain open-minded.”

The decision had attracted large-scale opposition, with campaign group Save Lincolnshire Libraries taking their fight, at one point, to 10 Downing Street.

Mr Wills added: “We need to take time to consider the best way forward, and will announce our next steps in the near future.

“In the meantime, we’ll continue to keep in close contact with the communities wanting to become involved in running library services.

“What this judgement doesn’t change is the need for us to find further yearly savings of £90m by 2018.”

To have your say on the library service, email librariesfeedback@lincolnshire.gov.uk.

 

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