Lincolnshire library campaigners urge minister to intervene

Lincolnshire library campaigners urge minister to intervene

Library campaigners in Lincolnshire are continuing their fight against council cuts, submitting new evidence to the secretary of state urging them to intervene in the council's decision.

In March, libraries minister Ed Vaizey stated that he was not minded to intervene in Lincolnshire's cuts, which will see the council turn over 40 of its libraries to volunteers or else see them close, while only 15 libraries remain open and council run. The cuts had already been rejected by the High Court who declared the moves "flawed", but the council reapproved the decision and pushed ahead.

Although Vaziey made a provisional decision not to intervene, he encouraged further submissions of evidence. Maurice Nauta, a former head of Lincolnshire libraries and part of the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign, has sent a detailed 14-page document to the minister, outlining the scope of the cuts.

In the document, Nauta identifies 10 libraries in areas of deprivation within the county, due to be closed or reduced in scale. In 2009, when Vaizey was in opposition, he called library cuts in the Wirral, where two of 15 libraries were in areas of deprivation, "cost-driven vandalism".

The document also includes dozens of statements from library users protesting at the planned closures. Kerry Clow said: “Lincolnshire has large numbers of small communities with little or no access to the services enjoyed by city or town-dwellers. These communities will be the ones most severely affected by library closures – another nail in the coffin for village life.”

Kevin Bates said: "My local library is very important to me because I am disabled and on a very low income, as a consequence I cannot travel to one of the libraries which is further afield,” while John Myers said: “Both my wife and I are regular users of the library: I am over 80 and my wife is disabled: we cannot afford nor are we able to travel further distances to larger libraries.”

The document also contains evidence compiled by libraries campaigner Tim Coates, which outlines the council's failures to comply with the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.

It concludes urging the minister to intervene, something the coalition government has yet to do in any library closures.